Shawnte Perry arrived at Marian House on October 15, 2020, after being incarcerated for 25 years. As a young woman she made poor choices about the people she befriended and got caught up in their behavior, adopting it as her own. At the age of 15, she spent a year in detention and then the next 24 years in the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women (MCIW).
Shawnte had only completed 9th grade at the time of her incarceration. She started her GED preparation upon first entering MCIW and finished in one year. She then enrolled in college courses through The Goucher Prison Education Partnership. When asked about her desire to further her education, Shawnte replied, “being incarcerated is whatever you make of it. I did everything I could to work on my degree while I had the opportunity, and it was offered for free. I was always a good student despite my poor choices.”
Because of her desire to learn and her good behavior record while at the correctional facility, Shawnte’s attorney pleaded with the Judge to grant her release to the Marian House program in 2020. The judge researched Marian House and determined that Shawnte was ready to resume her life outside of MCIW.
Shawnte is grateful to be in the Marian House program. She said, “After having a roommate and being in a bunkbed for 25 years I was so thankful to have my own private room. It gave me great peace of mind to have time alone. I thank God every day for being at Marian House.”
Shawnte has taken advantage of everything we offered her at Marian House and after completing the Job Readiness Program, obtained a job at the Baltimore Aquarium as a Guest Services Representative. When asked how she likes working she replied, “I love my job and get to meet at least 1,000 people every day. I am trained in different jobs throughout the Aquarium so there is never a dull moment.”
Shawnte completed her coursework towards a Bachelor of Arts degree in American Studies in the fall of 2020, shortly before coming to Marian House. On June 15, 2021, Shawnte graduated from Goucher College, one of the first women in nearly 30 years to complete a bachelor’s degree through coursework offered onsite in a Maryland prison.
Her years of taking college courses had finally paid off!
When asked what her future goals are she stated, “I want to eventually become a counselor or therapist. I want to help people with their struggles and mental health issues. I also know that I will eventually have my own place and I have never had a place of my own. I know Marian House will help me to succeed.”