The second phase of the series, “Improving Lives From the Inside Out”, highlights former incarcerated individuals who transformed their lives with the help of Securus Technologies’ Lantern learning management and education platform in partnership with Ashland University. Lantern provides nearly 70 courses for incarcerated individuals to be able to achieve either a bachelor’s or associate’s degree. Since its inception, this changemaking technology has given over 150,000 incarcerated residents, the opportunity to get a university education to help prepare them for a successful reentry. There have been over 1,000,000 course enrollments since Lantern’s inception.
When it comes to Amanda Grayson, she is not only interested in her own reintegration into society but is also concerned with others.
“Because of Lantern, I feel more confident now about my future, that I can have a good life, a successful life. I feel empowered to give a formerly incarcerated person that feeling, which is priceless,” Grayson explained.
She was released in June 2018 from the Ohio Reformatory for Women. Presently, she is working at a print shop and pursuing her bachelor’s of communication with a minor in business administration on Securus’ Lantern. She says she chose that degree to make her a better speaker and to help her with fundraising skills as well as organize institutions.
“My ultimate goal is to work in a women’s home for recovery. We don’t have anything like that in my area,” stated Grayson. “I am hoping that my communication degree through Lantern will help me with speaking skills like presentations to the city council.”
Grayson reveals that she is a recovering addict. She explains how she has traveled to different places to help women get a fresh start. Nevertheless, she points out that her hometown lacks resources to help women who need help with recovery.
“That’s why we need people like me. Recovery is a great thing. People have options when they’re ready to make a change,” Grayson stated.
She credits Securus’ Lantern for helping her transform her life and start her path towards a college career.
“Lantern helped with self-discipline and helped with my confidence. I’m not just a formerly incarcerated person. I am a college student and I am doing well,” Grayson added.
Some of her courses included biology, IT, software proficiency, organizational communications, business ethics class and personal asset management. She explains how the asset management class assists with her personal finances and has been an important factor in helping her with investments in these uncertain times.
“I am much more well-rounded, and with the personal assets course, I learned the struggles that managers face in a corporation,” Grayson stated.
She adds that she also learned how to type quickly, draft emails in a “drop-of- a-hat” and communicate effectively— all skills that she uses daily on her job.
Once she was released, and it came time to apply for a job, she felt prepared.
“Lantern helped me present my resume in an eye-catching way that’s professional. The communications degree helped me write cover letters,” Grayson stated. “It’s handy, since I can also use Lantern on my mobile. And as far as my resume goes, my work experience looks a lot better.”
In fact, Grayson had a winning resume that landed her a new job in August of 2018, serving as the digital technician in the art department at a print shop. She runs multiple computer systems responsible for the workflow of orders.
“I applied on day one. Then, I interviewed the next day and was offered the job on-the-spot,” Grayson emphasized. “The CEO has a great opinion of me as I’ve gotten two raises. I am trusted, and, I am second in command in my department.”
She credits Securus’ Lantern for making the biggest impact on her career, for giving her the opportunity to learn important technology skills that she uses every day.
“I am comfortable with modern technology, switching between different software programs and converting files,” explained Grayson. “I also have more experience with multitasking because of Lantern software as well as writing papers in different programs.”
She also explains how Securus’ Lantern has been a help with time management.
“I can work, go to school, create schedules and stick to them,” Grayson said. “Time management is very important when you work online, as I do with my job. Through my Lantern classes, I had the responsibility of reading books, listening to lectures, writing papers and making time to proofread.”
Although she has not completed her degree yet, she has discovered that her education has provided her with the necessary skills needed to apply for nonprofit positions, since ideally, she would like to help those with substance disorders, the recovering, homeless, mentally ill, or developmentally challenged. Regardless of the shortage of jobs during COVID-19, there are present positions she has applied for like peer support specialist, activities coordinator, marketing specialist, case manager and patient advocate.
“I would like to help people that have hardships to let them know that they can also turn their lives around. It’s not impossible, no matter how hard life seems,” Grayson concluded. “I never would have imagined that I would be living the life I am living today, had it not been for Lantern.”
View more case studies from Securus Technologies at Securustechnologies.tech/case-studies.