Below you will find my Future Fund 10 Live 2020 Speech. Take a few minutes to listen if you will.
Scroll down to see additional videos as well as an "I Gotta Story to Tell" compilation.
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From Prison to Careers in Science
.......“I just couldn’t believe it,” Christopher Medina-Kirchner told NOVA about being accepted into Columbia's Ph.D. program in psychology. “This was a best case scenario. I had never had a best case scenario happen in my entire life until then.”
Medina-Kirchner’s path to Columbia may seem unconventional. He began his studies during a six-year prison sentence, after he was incarcerated at the age of 17 for selling MDMA to an undercover officer. After learning the judge had given a lengthy sentence due to the number of people overdosing on MDMA, Medina-Kirchner crafted a goal: study the drug and its effects on the body and brain, and warn people of its dangers. Today, Medina-Kirchner is a neuropsychopharmacology doctoral student at Columbia University, working in a lab that researches the effects of MDMA.
“I learned that MDMA can be administered safely in laboratory settings, and that MDMA-related overdoses are just especially rare,” he told NOVA.
Educational programs can lower misconduct and violence within prison and recidivism upon release, studies have found. But there are serious barriers to education both during and after incarceration. Medina-Kirchner is not alone, though; other scientists have begun their education or career in prison and are also working to make STEM opportunities more accessible to those who have been in the carceral system.
Watch these scientists’ stories unfold and hear about the experiences that helped inform their work: