ROCK HILL, SC – Rotavis Ashcraft went from being a junior in a state prison at the age of 16 to a college student, making both As and Bs.
Ashcraft saw many people like him in prison without direction and few workers sympathized with him.
Ashcraft told Channel 9, “I’ve seen a lot of things. I’ve seen a lot. I told myself in the end, I have to be the one to change this. I can change it you know.”
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Ashcraft had the desire to learn and help others because he got his GED behind bars.
“I tell people, prison is one of the greatest things that ever happened to me, because it showed me who I really am.”
He said that prison time gave him discipline.
“I feel like if I had never been to prison before, I would probably be dead,” Ashcraft said. “That was the alternative for me. The lifestyle I was living, people tell me, ‘there are only two ways out: prison or the grave.'”
Ashcraft applied to Clinton College in Rock Hill after his release and publicly disclosed his conviction.
Jocelyn Biggs was on a special commission that investigated Ashcraft’s criminal past and admired the mentors who supported him.
“One of the officials from the prison he was in said, ‘I know you had a hard time getting the documents he needed,’” Biggs, vice president of the Recording Department, said. ‘ She said, ‘This young man is absolutely gorgeous and this is his time to shine.’
Tonys Randolph, vice president of academic services at Clinton College, said Ashcraft is an exemplary student.
He’s doing an excellent job,” Randolph said. “He’s currently making As and Bs.”
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Ashcraft hopes to become a lawyer to help other young people like him find their way through the legal system.
Ashcraft has a message for young people who have a chance to avoid the difficult path he has taken.
“Keep God first, and most importantly, and do your best to stay away from those who want to see you fall,” Ashcraft said. “Stay away from those who always want you to do something bad. Most importantly, if your mother gives you good advice, my mother, my father, my grandmother listen to them, for if I had listened to
Mom and grandmother, I probably wouldn’t have gone to jail.”
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The highlight of the cake, Ashcraft said, is that his lessons are free this year.
To help families already struggling with the pandemic, Clinton College has used COVID-19 relief funding to provide free tutoring to students during the 2021-2022 school year.
(Watch the video below: A college student moves on with life after a serious accident on the lake)
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