RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – A Richmond city jail inmate has overcome an incredible obstacle, while behind bars. Despite serving time for robbery, he decided to get his high school diploma, not his GED, his actual diploma.
It's a first for the Richmond Jail. Friday was a special day for incarcerated senior Jarell Roane. The 20-year-old received his high school diploma. It was a day many never saw coming.
"When I got locked up I was ready to give up on my education," said Roane. "I never thought since the age of 17 I really didn't think I was going to get a high school diploma."
Roane got arrested and convicted of robbery when he was 18 and a judge sentenced him to two years behind bars. While all other inmates were working on their GED's, he wanted to finish the work he started at Thomas Jefferson High School.
"I really took the time being locked up to pursue my education and better my life for when I get back into society," said Roane.
He went from being locked up to just down the hall in a small classroom where he and sometimes up to three other students would complete their course work working towards graduation day.
"Most of them say I can't do it. I won't do it and I'm just here and I don't want to really participate but he was determined," explained Richmond Sheriff C.T. Woody.
That determination got the attention of jail officials including Sheriff Woody. In his office Friday they held a mini graduation ceremony where he received his diploma in front of family members.
"I just want to tell people you can do it," said Roane.
Roane has accepted responsibility for his crime. He and those touched by his story hope it inspires others.
"Learn from your mistakes and keep on going," said Sheriff Woody. "Look ahead and don't look back!"
"A lot of people told me I would not make it," said Roane. "But hard work, dedication and people behind me I got my high school diploma."
Roane is set to be released from jail on December 5, 2011. He's already thinking about college and plans to attend J. Sargeant Reynolds. He hopes to one day become an in-home nurse.