When Tyra Patterson was released from prison on Christmas Day 2017 after serving 23 years for a crime she didn’t commit, she made it her mission to pay it forward. A week after her release — which was aided by the Ohio Justice and Policy Center — the organization hired her as a paralegal.
Although Patterson dropped out of school at 11, she was able to receive her GED in prison and take specialized classes. And, recently, she delivered the commencement speech at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, where she was also surprised with the school's 2020 Creative Perseverance award and an honorary Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.
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