Former incarcerated individual uses his Lantern education to teach others why language matters
Securus Technologies' "Improving Lives From the Inside Out" Profile Series Part 10.
DALLAS — This latest installment of “Improving Lives From the Inside Out” series highlights how Securus’ Lantern helps a former incarcerated individual pursue his career dreams. Securus Technologies’ 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 individuals, 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 Ramadii Parker, it is all about communication. However, he not only is a Lantern student, Parker is putting his communication skills to work by serving as the ”Language Matters” campaign Ambassador for the Securus Foundation. The goal of the campaign is to educate people on dehumanizing language towards individuals who are trying to reengage into society. Parker is featured in a series of videos that brings the message to life.
“I will try to enlighten people on how we communicate, can have a direct effect on how we view people, whether it be negative or positive,” Parker stated.
Parker was released from Richland Correctional Facility (RiCI) in Mansfield, Ohio in July of 2019. He is pursuing his bachelor’s of communications degree through Securus’ Lantern. He feels strongly that his communications degree empowers him to motivate others on choosing their words carefully, so as not to cripple the confidence of people who have paid their debt to society and are on their way to a successful reentry.
“Through my degree program, I have understood that communication is one of the most important parts of any interaction,” Parker said. “Using language to help incarcerated individuals build up their confidence and not deter them from creating something better, is the main goal of this campaign.”
In fact, Parker discovered the Securus Foundation while he was at RiCI. He had the distinction of being in the first group, of a six-hour interactive workshop, entitled the Exodus Planner Workbook. The program consists of four categories which include Responsibility, Empowerment, Accountability, and Legacy. 100 men participated in the program taught by justice involved (formerly incarcerated) and directly impacted (loved ones who are touched by the criminal justice system) individuals. Breakout sessions targeted questions to help with self-awareness. The takeaway— people realize when they land in prison, they are not going by themselves; they are taking their entire families.
After Parker served his time, he contacted the Securus Foundation to let the staff know how the Exodus class had helped with his discipline in preparing for reentry and that he was pursing his college education through the Securus’ Lantern program in partnership with Ashland University.
Without knowing anything about the “Language Matters” campaign, he explained how he wanted to change the narrative by educating people to stop putting limits on someone, because of his or her past. Securus Foundation President and CEO, Dawn Freeman, said she selected Parker as the ambassador because of his polished communication skills along with his communication degree program.
“Lantern connects me with thousands of people, professors, lecturers and preachers, so it is one of the most important things that is helping me with my education and career,” Parker explained.
Why communications? Because Parker loves to talk to people. He credits his Lantern education for sharpening his skills.
“Lantern made me more computer savvy and improved my communication skills. It has given me more confidence, so that I can now help others.”
He received his associate’s degree in general studies while he was incarcerated. He also completed two certificate programs in business and business management through Securus’ Lantern in partnership with Ashland University.
While he was pursuing his degree while serving his time, he discovered his true inspiration in life.
“I thought my Lantern communications degree would help me further my interest in going into motivational speaking, since I enjoyed talking to people while I was in prison,” Parker explained.
Parker describes himself as a seasoned storyteller. He explains how his fellow incarcerated residents took pleasure in hearing his story of how he turned out to be a winner, despite adversity.
“My leadership role started in high school, playing sports. I went to a predominantly white parochial school. I’m African American, and I ended up being one of the football team captains because of my athletic ability,” Parker stated. “Sports not only gives you leadership; it also helps with camaraderie and is a good stepping stone to building a successful life.”
That story serves as his introduction to his motivational talk to his fellow incarcerated individuals. Then, he talks about how he overcame addiction and received inspiration to help with his recovery through the religious content on Securus’ Lantern.
“I would read the scriptures and let others know about the readings. Then, we would share our thoughts,” Parker stated.
After being released from RiCI, he transitioned into a treatment facility, Oriana, where he had resources to help him with his needs including his addiction and job assistance. He was released from Oriana, this January. He was pleased that his education continued seamlessly, despite his transition to a new facility.
“Without Lantern, I wouldn’t have an associate’s degree. I wouldn’t have the opportunities and success that I am having now,” Parker stated.
Parker credits Securus’ Lantern communication program for providing him with the skills needed to effectively interact with people both in the workforce and in his personal life.
He is also relieved by the business skills he mastered through Lantern, especially the technical training.
“I wasn’t well-versed in technology skills, so I’m grateful that I was able to be part of the program because the tech skills that are used in business today are in direct relation to Lantern,” Parker explained.
While Parker feels this training is definitely helpful, he also feels he has another advantage.
“I think employers are looking for someone who is beyond well-rounded. Through my diverse background, the adversity I was challenged with, staying determined and getting a degree, means a lot to people,” Parker emphasized.
Something that means a lot to Parker is helping youth. One of his aspirations for his future motivational speaking career is to launch a foundation where he can help young people in underserved communities. He is grateful for the positive impact Securus’ Lantern has made on his life with technology and wants to bridge the gap for youth in underserved communities to empower them with tech skills to help them with their education and future.