News - 2012(BACK)
Talbot Hall Alumnus Awarded Distinguished Scholarships
West Caldwell, NJ April 13 -
Walter Fortson, a current student at Rutgers University and former resident of Talbot Hall, is reaping the benefits of hard work, determination, and commitment to change. In April, Mr. Fortson has become the recipient of not only one but two prestigious scholarships, the highly distinguished Truman Scholarship and the Nets Foundation Appreciation Scholarship. Mr. Fortson is a former resident of Talbot Hall, Community Education Centers, Inc.'s
500-bed assessment and reentry treatment center for the New Jersey Department of Corrections (NJ DOC) in Kearny, New Jersey.
"Only when people are serious about change can the change take place. It wonít happen until an individual is ready, and I was ready to change," says Mr. Fortson
The Truman Scholarship is awarded annually to college students that have been identified as potential leaders having notable commitment to public service. The Truman scholarship is named for President Harry S. Truman and is aimed to provide assistance for senior year and graduate education costs. The national award is only given to 50-75 U.S. college juniors each year. Other illustrious recipients of the Truman scholarship include Janet Napolitano (1977), Secretary of Homeland Security under President Obama; George Stephanopoulos (1981), Senior Political Correspondent for ABC News; Susan Rice (1984), U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and Jon Favreau (2002), Director of Speechwriting for President Obama, as well as many esteemed members of government, media and leading educational institutionse.
Mr. Fortson attributes his success to the inspiration of Dawn Gross, educational counselor at Talbot Hall, and Don Roden, Professor at Rutgers University and mentor to those behind bars. He feels his experience at Talbot Hall was a turning point for him, citing the services provided to him there as advantageous instruments for change.
"I am so proud of Walter Fortson for receiving these tremendous honors. It was rewarding to help support and encourage him towards goals in higher education. He was a willing student and very receptive to taking a new positive direction," says Ms. Gross.
He also credits the CEC Alumni Association for their inspiration and dedication to the fact that change is possible. The Alumni Association regularly holds meetings at Talbot Hall, where residents are invited to hear stories and witness the experiences of alumni after their release.
In 2010, Mr. Fortson won an academic award of excellence and is now in his junior year and pursuing a B.A. in Exercise Science and Sports Studies. His goal is to work with the prison population analyzing nutrition and its correlation to physical health and wellness.
Community Education Centers, Inc. (CEC) is a leading provider of offender reentry and
in-prison treatment services in America, operating in 18 states and the Commonwealth of Bermuda, with over 30,000 individuals in its daily care. CEC provides a full range of therapeutic residential and non-residential reentry services with a documented record of reducing recidivism.