Patrick Rodriguez is a true beacon of hope and redemption to hundreds of Atlantans who’ve been written off. As the co-executive director of the Georgia Coalition for Higher Education in Prison and the Director of Georgia State University’s Prison Education Project, Patrick is on a mission to create meaningful, sustainable and scaleable pathways from incarceration to higher education. His focus on building robust programs is inspired by his own incarcerated past and redemption story, with his innovative ideas earning his organizations thousands of dollars in grants. Patrick believes that through second chances and understanding, we can make a lasting positive change on our society. His goal: more associate degree programs in more prisons by the year 2025
What inspired you to do this?
As a formerly incarcerated person, it is not expected for someone like me to be their best self. I believe that this is a step in the direction of breaking down the stigma surrounding what it means to be someone who has been to prison. I had to jump at this opportunity to show the world that people who’ve been to prison are just as capable as everyone else and deserving of a second chance.
What advice would you give to others fighting for their dream?
Your perspective matters. No matter how crazy your idea may sound, just go for it. Take that first step and start small because you never know where you’ll end up.
What important lessons have you learned over the years?
The world is full of challenges, and I have faced many of them, but I have learned that I am not alone. There are people who have similar experiences and who want to progress forward in life, but all they need is a chance. If you take a moment to get to know someone and understand where they’re coming from, you can most likely work with them to make positive changes for society.
Tell us about a moment in your career that impacted you the most.
When I first came home from prison in 2019, I started to surround myself with people who believed in me more than I believed in myself. This was important for my personal and professional development. I now know that you need others to help you along the way so that you can reach your fullest potential. I am eternally grateful to the people who have both empowered and helped me through my journey.