Former inmate, current mayor offers hope to graduates

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HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KAKE) -

A group of inmates heard from a keynote speaker, who turned his life around.

"Thankful and grateful for this opportunity that I have to be able to come back and walk out as a freeman," said Jermaine Wilson, keynote speaker.

Wilson served three years in prison for selling drugs. He has been out of prison for nearly a decade.

"I hope and pray that this gives them the hope that they need to become successful," said Wilson, before speaking to the group.

Today, nearly 100 inmates graduated from the central and east units of the Hutchinson Correctional Facility. 

The 32-year-old shared his life story at both graduation ceremonies.

Since being released from prison, he has earned degrees, become a youth minister, married, and started a non-profit organization called Unity in the Community. 

"I'm passionate about helping people now. When your passion and your purpose meet, it gives birth to your destiny. When I realized that, nothing was going to stop me," said Wilson.

Wilson's appearance was arranged by Michelle Murray, the GED instructor for Greenbush - The Southeast Kansas Education Service Center.

During her introduction of Wilson, she said a student had asked, 'Mrs. Murray, do you think I could ever be mayor of Wichita?' 

She responded, "Later that week I saw national news about this former inmate becoming mayor of Leavenworth. I found an article and printed it off for him and said, 'See? It is doable.'"

Wilson became mayor of the City of Leavenworth in January 2019.

He recalled this conversation. "I had a good friend named Sean Crittendon. He said, 'The way you're serving this community, one day you're going to possibly become the mayor.' I said, 'Yeah, right.'"

Wilson hopes to serve his community and continue to spread the message of hard work, dedication, determination, and discipline.

To learn more about Unity in the Community, click here.

To learn more about Greenbush - The Southeast Kansas Education Service Center, click here.