Shawn Khalifa

With a laptop on his desk, listening to the instructor’s lecture, Shawn Khalifa looks like any other student in the room. But his path to higher education started in prison years ago. With the help of a mentor and the director of the Underground Scholars program at the University of California, Irvine, Khalifa will soon graduate with his bachelor’s degree later this year. The program provides mentorship, peer support and guidance to formerly incarcerated and system-impacted students. Here’s why the program is hoping to create a prison-to-university pipeline.

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