Pangthong

Why Do I Want a College Degree?

By Anouthinh Pangthong | August 8, 2017

Many people talk about “seeing the light.” It’s clichéd, I know. My education has been that proverbial light. It just so happens to have taken 20 odd years for me to see what people saw in higher education. Like the cave dwellers in Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave,” I was limited in how I perceived the world. I viewed life through very narrow lenses and because of that restricted vision, I wasn’t capable of critically thinking my way beneath the surface.

Attending college has afforded me the opportunity to escape the cave of darkness and obscurity and enter a world of new experiences. As a student, I have learned so much from my instructors and other students through classroom, lectures, discussion, and brainstorming. Most important of all, what I have learned concerns my own development. Education has given me the confidence to actualize my potential.

Many critics question why prisoners should get free education. I say, why not offer education to prisoners? Too many incarcerated Americans enter the criminal justice system with little to no education. I committed my crime at 15 and received a 25 years to life sentence. Before that, I was expelled from high school three months into my freshman year. It was a long journey and I worked towards earning my high school diploma. Today, I am not the lost, insecure kid who sought acceptance from his peers. I have a college education. I can discuss Plato’s Republic, or the complicated mind of Nietzsche, who claimed Plato preached virtue as a means to keep the lower class in the lower rung of society, or the prison industrial complex and its insatiable appetite. Education unlocked that side of my mind that was confined as Plato’s cave dwellers were confined by their legs and their necks. A college degree will ensure that I stay out of the cave and help those still shackled to unchain themselves and crawl towards the light.

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