Genesee Co Jail IGNITE graduates largest class to date

Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 6:13 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) -(06/09/21)-“I just want to do something with my life,” said IGNITE graduate, Mataya Shaw.

It’s graduation day for Mataya Shaw. But it’s not the kind right of passage that may first come to mind.

“I want to help people. Show them that your mistakes don’t define you,” Shaw said.

Shaw is graduating from the IGNITE program at the Genesee County Jail where Shaw has spent the last 3 years.

The IGNITE program helps inmates like Shaw find a new path in life by helping them to develop skills that can lead to new more positive opportunities when they get out.

“When you give people the opportunity to validate themselves. To get a second chance at dignity. To restore broken dreams, that’s how you reduce crime. That’s how you get people from coming back,” said Genesee County Sheriff, Chris Swanson.

Shaw was part of the largest graduating IGNITE class since the program started. With 12 students graduating today. It’s a moment that brought Shaw’s dad Matthew to tears.

“I’m so proud, Proud moment. I’ve missed her so much. She’s come a long way. Come a long way,” said dad, Matthew Shaw.

“I haven’t hugged my dad in three years. I’m very thankful,” Mataya said.

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