Former incarcerated individual lands jobs due to tech skills learned by Securus' Lantern and Ashland University
Securus Technologies' "Improving Lives From the Inside Out" profile series part eight.
The second phase of the series, “Improving Lives From the Inside Out,” highlights how Securus Technologies’ Lantern creates habits that lead to a communication degree for the formerly incarcerated. Securus’ Lantern learning management and education platform in partnership with Ashland University 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 170,000 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.
This is the story of Amy Yang, who was released from the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women on January of 2019. Through the Securus’ Lantern education program in partnership with Ashland University, she received her associate’s degree in general studies three months after her release. She is now pursuing her bachelor’s of communications.
“I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. But I knew that communication is the heart of modern business,” Yang stated. ”To get a job, you need technology and communication. If you don’t have technology, you’re not going to make it.”
Ideally, she would like to work in Georgia because of its Second Chance for Georgia Campaign.
“The state of Georgia has many nonprofits to help. It’s a lot of work, but I started off on the right foot, so I believe that I can do it.”
When she went to prison, she says she did not know anything about technology. With Securus’ Lantern, she started to learn.
“The first thing I knew when I came home, is that I could finish my degree on my laptop because of Lantern. I felt empowered.”
However, there were also disappointments. According to Yang, in the state of Louisiana, at the time of her release, she did not qualify for any reentry programs. The waiting list was seven months, and she felt, in that timeframe, she could transition herself, so she called her family in Georgia, so that she could join them. Then, she said, the challenge began. However, Yang had the digital training needed, to take it on.
“Lantern helped with me with my self-esteem. It empowered me to be confident, that I could navigate through it— with my state ID, driver’s license, doctor’s appointments— everything was online,” Yang stated. “At first, I felt overwhelmed when I had to fill out online forms. I felt lost. With Lantern, I remembered the process.”
While it seems tedious, Yang realizes those forms are the first step towards beginning her successful reentry. However, she points out while in prison, she had already begun her transformation.
“I was part of a mentorship to help others change their lives. I would put them under my wing, showed them a better way of doing their time,” Yang said. “When I did get released, I noticed there was more rehabilitation help in Louisiana for men than women. I didn’t want women to be forgotten.”
Yang also thanks her studies towards her communications degree for being a big motivator in her life’s choices for her job now and her dream career.
“Right now, I am a life coach, a person who helps offenders reenter society. Mentorship takes a lot of communication skills,” Yang stated. “You have to know when to talk and listen. I help them achieve their goals like getting a driver’s license, a job, a place to live or medical care.”
However, being a life coach is not a paying job, she calls it her “passion”. She is doing this to train for her career goal of working for a nonprofit to help women. In fact, she has an entrepreneurial spirit and would like to launch her own women’s charity. Presently, she works two jobs, one at Amazon and another at a metal fabrication company, a position she got during COVID-19, which she credits to her tech skills.
“I found a job doing programming because of Lantern,” said Yang. “With Amazon, they gave me a chance because they saw I had the technology background. I really lucked up on the job.”
She feels her courses will especially be helpful in her aspirations for a nonprofit career with the skills she has learned through Lantern with creating graphs and charts, since she expects to be creating plenty of presentations because of the need for seeking government funding.
Yang also credits her communications degree that she is earning through Securus’ Lantern for helping her with her customer service at work.
“Communications has helped me deal with customers and understand diversity and respect,” Yang explains.
She realizes that is a life skill that will help her today and in the future.