How I went from Prisoner to PhD is a new BBC/OU short film which tells the remarkable and compelling story of one man’s journey from jail to academic research, in his own words.
Stephen Akpabio-Klementowski had no qualifications when he was sentenced to 16 years in prison. He’s now a PhD candidate with The Open University and an associate lecturer, working with those who are learning as he first did, while serving a prison sentence.
The short film features on the award winning BBC Ideas website, also available to view on YouTube and social media channels including Twitter and Facebook.
In his direct and honest account, Stephen tells viewers:
“I work with students in prisons. I love what I do. It feels deeply personal to me, because I used to be a prisoner too. All these labels have been mine.”
He admits that whilst growing up was tough the “most difficult barrier” was inside himself.
In prison he studied in the time he had after his work in the kitchens. His study turned his life around.
In the film he says:
“After I was released, I got a job working with students in prisons – not in spite of who I was, but because of it. I found freedom within my own mind.”
And he has strong advice for anyone struggling to begin study:
“You need to remember that you have the capacity to learn. You have the capacity to change your life. There is treasure within each and every one of us.”
Academic consultant on the film was Dr Daniel McCulloch, lecturer in criminology and social policy. He said:
“Stephen’s story shows his remarkable journey from studying in prison to becoming a PhD candidate here with us at the OU.
“We’re incredibly proud of Stephen’s work – both in supporting OU students directly, and in his PhD research, which explores the opportunities and barriers to studying Higher Education in prison.
“This video shows how important education is to people in prison. Stephen provides a glimpse of the barriers to studying whilst in prison, as well as the extraordinary lengths that our students in prison go to in order to study with us. Higher Education for prisoners can lead to greater opportunities on release, as well as offering a focal point whilst in prison.”
Stephen writes more about both his experiences and on his research into prisoner education on OpenLearn.
The BBC Ideas film will join a brand new series of OU/BBC digital videos already available on the OU playlist. These include A tale of resilience: ‘How I survived a horrific loss’, Four tips from elite sport you can use in everyday life, Is it time to reassess our relationship with nature?, Are you sharing too much online? and two more films exploring Plant blindness and What would a world without prisons be like? will follow.
This series was commissioned by Broadcast and Partnerships and is supported by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences with particular relevance to Q83 BSc (Hons) Social Psychology, R60 BSc (Hons) Cyber Security, Q92 BA (Hons) Criminology and Law, R21 BA (Hons) Criminology, R46 BA (Hons) Criminology and Sociology, the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies with particular relevance to Q76 BSc (Hons) Sport, Fitness and Coaching, R26 BA (Hons) Health and Social Care and the Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics with particular relevance to Q64 BSc (Hons) Natural Sciences (Environmental Science) and R58 BSc (Hons) Biology
- Commissioned by: Dr Caroline Ogilvie, Head of Broadcast & Partnerships
- Academic Consultants: Dr Rose Capdevila, Dr Lisa Lazard, Dr Eleni Dimou, Dr David Scott, Dr Deborah Drake and Dr Daniel McCulloch (FASS); Dr Jenny Douglas, Dr Sara MacKian, Simon Penn and Dr Nichola Kentzer (WELS) and Dr Kadmiel Maseyk (STEM)
- Media Fellows: Dr Alison Penn (FASS); Simon Rea, Dr Mathijs Lucassen (WELS) and Dr Julia Cooke (STEM)
- Broadcast Project Manager: Clair Robinson
- Digital Content Producer: Alison Duffy-Tang
The films can be viewed on the BBC Ideas website and the Broadcast pages on OpenLearn: https://www.open.edu/openlearn/tv-radio-events/events/bbc-ideas which also feature a wealth of resources related to the videos.