YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – When Jesse Driver, III walked to the front of the room, he had a smile that was contagious. Everyone clapped and cheered and rooted him on. He was celebrating a huge accomplishment.

“He has stuck with his education. He has not let himself down. He has not only not let himself down, but he has not let his classmates down. He has tutored, he’s motivated, he has been there to support everyone,” said academic instructor Virginia Maher.

Driver faced some difficult moments while working to get his associate’s degree in business, but even when he felt like giving up, he kept pushing through.

“During this process, you know, I lost my mom, I lost my dad, and I still persevered,” he said. 

Driver was just one of over a dozen men who graduated while at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center Tuesday.

Some of the students earned their GED and HSE (High School Equivalent). Others earned business certificates from Ashland University.

“Today, you are not incarcerated adult, you’re not offender, you’re not inmate, you’re graduate,” said Warden Dave Bobby.

Youngstown Mayor Tito Brown also gave the men some words of encouragement.

“You don’t have to be your yesterday, you can definitely be your future,” Mayor Brown said. 

Then, the crowd cheered as each student walked up to the front to receive their certificates. 

Driver says he has plans to use his education to help others in his community.

“I wanna come home and show the young guys that there’s more to life than what they are seeing out there,” Driver said. 

Principal Natalie Grant says the students will all continue to pursue their education and reach the next milestone. 

Below is the full list of graduates:

Associate Degree

  • Jesse Driver, III

GED/HSE

  • Lonnie Rader
  • Essah Shahid
  • Dwayne Davenport
  • Michael Tyler
  • Tedvin Head
  • Vontane Mingo-Bracy
  • Christopher Hunter
  • DeShone Sykes

Ashland University Graduates

  • Gregory McGee
  • Jeffrey Grant
  • James Stewart
  • Marvin Scott
  • Joseph Anderson
  • Joseph Hampton
  • Luke Peterson
  • Bradley Blocker
  • Gerald Jones, Jr.
  • Anthony Sanchez
  • Jamal Shakoor

Masonry Graduates

  • Jeremy Logan
  • Albert Adkins
  • Anthony Davis
  • Raylon Hardy
  • Ryan Scott
  • Kenneth Shepherd
  • Melvin Shaw
  • Richard Rodriguez
  • Kip Pullin
  • William Mitchell
  • Christopher Hunter
  • Joey Davis
  • Brandon Conner
  • Dominic Banks
  • Nathaniel Alexander
  • Tavon Berkley
  • James Watters