[EJP] broadens your horizons. Instead of being stuck in tunnel vision, it opens this world up for you in a way
Kenny Johnson, EJP Alumnus
“When I first got incarcerated,” Kenny Johnson explains, “I had a ninth grade education. I had a limited vision of the world. I had a ‘ghetto mentality,’ a ‘get-them-before-they-get-you’ type of attitude. I didn’t know it at the time, but I had handicapped myself.”
Now 56 years old and recently released from prison, Kenny credits the education he received while incarcerated—including three courses he completed through EJP—with changing his outlook on life. “[EJP] broadens your horizons. Instead of being stuck in tunnel vision, it opens this world up for you in a way,” he says.
Now that Kenny has been released after 35 years in Danville CC, he says that EJP has helped him in practical ways, in addition to being a more intangible, motivational experience. After being dismissed from a job due to failing his background check, Kenny is once again in search of employment. “My challenge is I have ‘ex-felon’ on my back [. . .] but having participated in college I understand I have different options now; my choices are a lot broader now than someone who is uneducated,” he says.
Aside from searching for full-time work, Kenny stays busy as a community organizer in his hometown of Joliet, where he is the founder of a small but growing community group called “Eastside Moving Forward.” Additionally, Kenny hopes to give back by becoming a certified drug counselor. A former addict himself, Kenny explains, “It’s something that I feel is an obligation, to try to help some youth so they won’t have to go through the trials and tribulations that I went through.”