My Day Job as a Clerk and Tutor
Before I attend UC Irvine in the evenings, there is a special place where I am at from 8am to 3pm. This place is the Otay Mesa Adult School at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility. I work in one of the GED classrooms. Many individuals always say, “Why would you spend your whole day in there, when you could be focusing all your attention studying for your UC Irvine courses.” I respond by replying that there are millions of people in America and around the world, who do much more in their day than just attend colleges or universities. For instance, they have jobs; have to take care of their siblings or their elderly parents or grandparents. Nobody just goes to college people have bills to pay. They do not understand that this is my passion to help the students get their GED. I give math lessons on the SMART board; I demonstrate to them how to read a formula sheet, and how to work the calculator. I have been doing this for 8 years while incarcerated, and years back prior to my incarceration, I worked at an adult school ironically in the GED classroom as a teacher’s assistance.
“I hope American’s understand that America’s prison population needs individuals who care for these people and tries a different way to rehabilitate its citizens. Too much money is being spend in incarceration and we should focus on stopping the flow of the school to prison pipeline.”
– Pete Madrigal
There are no words, which I can describe how I feel when I sit down and help my students. They have so many stories to share about their upbringing. Some are made fun of because of their mental health issues. I say to them that they should not make fun of them because I work with many of them and they are very bright individuals. Occasionally, I go through their folders, clean them out by taking out old assignments, and file them in their file. I do this because I care for them. I understand that many of them did not have someone in their lives to love and support them while they were dealing with the stress of childhood trauma. Most of my students are Black and people of color, which is something that is concerning. Why did they end up getting an education when they were incarcerated and not when they were growing up. I hope American’s understand that America’s prison population needs individuals who care for these people and tries a different way to rehabilitate its citizens. Too much money is being spend in incarceration and we should focus on stopping the flow of the school to prison pipeline.
UC Irvine Student at Richard J. Donovan Campus