Logo with a gold A and blue P E P and blue text that spells out Augustana Prison Education Program

A Day in the Life

A Day in the Life shares stories from faculty, students, and APEP Student Assistants. These stories aim to give insight into APEP: how it works, and how it impacts participants.


Torrence Neal '25

"Higher education in prison has been truly a life altering experience. Being deeply engaged in academic programs in prison is extremely challenging, but well worth it. Higher education is key to lowering recidivism rates. Through my experience APEP has given me tools to examine and view the world with a different lens.

Through this strenuous process I have gained an intellectual perspective on religion, communication, theatre, science, literature, English, etc. This experience has only added to my character in a positive and productive way. It has been a pleasure to interact with a diverse group of professors; watching their different styles of pedagogy was great! It is impossible to be fully engaged in APEP and not gain knowledge.

There are many tax payers who believe higher education in prison is a complete waste of time and money; however APEP is privately funded through the Austin E. Knowlton Foundation. The Austin E. Knowlton Foundation is highly appreciated. The Augustana Prison Education Program has helped me build morale, confidence, and faith. As my professor Dr. Mahn said in a St Paul Lutheran Church Journey Magazine, 'When the Lutheran church through Lutheran colleges builds bridges to communities that would otherwise be forgotten, marginalized, or stereotyped, we are living out our personal and institutional faith.' He further elaborated on reducing recidivism rates while also building skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, and empathy.

As I fully experience this Lutheran liberal arts curriculum, I am gradually grasping Professor Mahn's vision. As I continue writing I can hear the professor vividly saying 'good Mr. Neal, say more.' I do come from a marginalized and stereotyped community, where the ideology of education was not taken seriously and viewed as weak. Royce Da 5'9, a Detroit based rapper, once said 'Knowledge is power, but you are powerless if you do not acknowledge it.' I agree with this statement; knowledge is universal currency and education is the foundation to help you interpret the knowledge you receive. Prior to APEP there were no educational programs offered to me that would stimulate and challenge me in academics. I cannot wait to see where this positive program takes me."