OSU Partnership With Catholic Charities Helps Women In Payne County Jail Work Toward Diplomas

Oklahoma State University and Catholic Charities are working together to help women inside the Payne County Jail get their high school diplomas.

Tuesday, August 8th 2023, 5:33 pm



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Oklahoma State University and Catholic Charities are working together to help women inside the Payne County Jail get their high school diplomas.

Sister Catherine Martinez believes love changes lives.

"By being present, by being accepting and open, and just treating them like normal people, and allowing them to grow and to have opportunities," she said.

She's putting that belief to work at the Payne County Jail.

It's part of a program through Catholic Charities and Oklahoma State that helps women get their high school diplomas.

Sister Catherine has been to the jail three times already and says she's already seen confidence grow in these women.

"Now they see well maybe it wasn't all them, maybe it was circumstances, and if they can overcome that, they can have many more opportunities," she said.

Oklahoma State professors teach the courses and then Catholic Charities goes into the jail to help with testing.

Catholic Charities' adult education program has been around for 15 years, but this is the first time they've done something like this.

"Once you take a test and you pass it, there is this sense of accomplishment, of pride, that if I did this, I can do something else, I can take that next step in my life to turn it around," said A.J. Tierney with Catholic Charities.

Tierney says this is a great way to build community and to help people who have made mistakes in their lives, start a new chapter.

"The women have different stories of why they are there, and I like to think that they are starting a story," she said.

Catholic Charities says it is talking with the Payne County jail to possibly start this program with the men in the future.

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