Rising Scholars

Rising Scholars

CMF Graduates attend the Solano College 2023 Commencement Ceremony

Solano College Phi Theta Kappa Inductees at CMF (2022)

California Community Colleges are committed to serving students who have been impacted by the criminal justice system. Colleges supporting these students form the Rising Scholars Network.

At Solano Community College, we proudly serve students at three correctional facilities in Solano County. In the prisons, we offer Associate Degrees for Transfer in Business, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology.

Mission Statement

The mission of Solano College’s Rising Scholars Program is to offer a high-quality education leading to transferrable Associates Degree’s to a diverse population of incarcerated students at the correctional institutions served by the college. The SCC Rising Scholar Program is dedicated to enhancing personal development and rehabilitation through education for the students that we serve. It is our goal to help students attain their academic goals and increase their self-worth, confidence, and employment opportunities. Through education, our objective is to establish lifelong learning characteristics, develop critical thinking skills, improve the lives of our students, and help ensure successful and satisfying reentry into society post-incarceration.


The Solano Community College Rising Scholars Program serves justice-involved students at California Medical Facility (CMF), California State Prison – Solano (CSPS), and Solano County Jail.

The Rising Scholars team of professors is dedicated to improving the lives of incarcerated students by providing a high-quality education leading to Associates Degrees for transfer.

  • Associate in Science in Business Administration for Transfer
  • Associate in Arts in Political Science for Transfer
  • Associate in Arts in Psychology for Transfer
  • Associate in Arts in Sociology for Transfer

Social Benefits

“Providing effective education for incarcerated individuals has several interrelated social benefits. Most notably, educating prison inmates reduces crime. Correspondingly, as crime diminishes, there is less victimization. Furnishing incarcerated college students with an education steeped in 21st century competencies is a pathway for reducing recidivism, stigmas attached to incarceration, and the need for mass incarceration. Higher education is a proven rehabilitation model that helps make society, both inside and outside the prison walls, a safer and more humane environment” (Zitko, 2021, p. 167)

Student Testimonials

“I was surprised by the impact college had on my overall perspective. My lens is much wider and I [am] able to analyze a past that is marred by destructive behavior – emphasis on ‘past.’’ (TS, 2023)

“There are times that as inmates you don’t expect to be treated fairly, but you have taught me that the Education department [at Solano College] really cares about their students…and for that I will always be grateful” (JS, 2022).

“Because of my achievements in college, I basically served five years less than I was originally committed to. There are no mere ‘words’ that can express my sincere gratitude for the sacrifices that you made by simply just ‘showing up.’ The knowledge that you imparted upon me as one of your students will have ramifications far beyond what our limited years on this planet will see” (J.R., formerly incarcerated RS student).

“I want to say I extremely appreciate you and thank you from the bottom of my heart for coming to bat for me and taking your precious time out of your busy day to actually look into my file and write a letter regarding me to the California Department of Corrections. It was an absolute honor to have someone of your status show they really care for their college students, no matter incarcerated or not…You are Great!” (Letter from RS student to President/Superintendent Esposito-Noy, 2022).

“This college stuff is really exciting to me. I should have been doing this years ago…Thanks for helping me to change my life” (RV, 2021).

Faculty Testimonials

“In my 19 years of teaching experience, I have never had a more motivated group of students. My students in the Rising Scholars Program truly have a passion and excitement for learning. Their dedication is commendable and inspiring, especially considering the hardships they face on a daily basis. Hearing them talk about what education means to them and how much of an impact it makes on their lives and on the lives of their families is what drives me to continue teaching. I am reminded on a daily basis that what I am doing makes a difference. Many of my students have never had a positive experience with education and I get to have the privilege of being a part of a new chapter in their lives. I am so proud of my students and so proud to be a part of the Rising Scholars program.” (Prof. J. Clemens)
“Rising Scholars has allowed me to reach an extremely underserved and neglected population. Rising Scholars students are the most passionate learners I have ever encountered. Their desire to learn is unparalleled in my over 20 years of teaching higher education.” (Prof. A. Wesley)
“If you love teaching and want to make a true difference in an underserved community and take part in the process of rehabilitation, then don’t hesitate to get involved.” (Prof. K. Kolbe)
“When I was invited to join the Rising Scholars program several years ago, I was elated and a little hesitant. While I had never stepped foot inside a prison, I did work with several formerly incarcerated men and women in various community programs some years prior. I recalled how repentant many felt and how open they were with sharing their stories and exposing their regrets. My interaction with them was an eye-opening experience. I felt blessed to serve as an instructor within their environment. Most were ready to make a change in their lives. They have been some of the best students I’ve ever taught. It’s been an honor to see some of them graduate and continue to strive for greater accomplishments.” (Dr. R. Alums)

2023 Graduates and PTK Inductees

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Meet the Staff

Peter "Tony" Zitko
Dean of External Programs
Anastacia Lamba
Administrative Assistant
Jessica Meekins
Administrative Assistant
Nicholas Turney
Rising Scholars Faculty Coordinator