The Long Island Campus Department of Criminal Justice hosted Ronald F. Day, Ph.D., vice president of programs and research for the Fortune Society, for an inspiring seminar on March 30.
During “From the Street to the Suite,” Day spoke to over 40 St. Joseph’s University, New York students, faculty and staff about his successful reintegration into society after incarceration.
A Bronx native, Day was convicted of multiple offenses and served 15 years in a maximum security prison. He was granted parole in 2007 at his initial parole hearing.
“When I came out, I told myself I wanted to continue my education,” Day said. “From 2008, I was in school for 10 straight years. I had to finish an undergraduate degree, and then I completed a master’s degree with honors.”
Day was accepted into the Ph.D. program at the City University of New York and graduated in 2019.
“I said it would be a hell of a thing for me, who deprecated my community by engaging in criminal behavior to all of sudden have a Ph.D. in criminal justice,” he said. “I hadn’t even thought of that when I was in prison.”
“You would never think I was formerly incarcerated – unless I told you.”
Now, as an executive at the Fortune Society, Day advocates for and supports the formerly incarcerated.
“What I do now is I talk to people directly impacted by the system and let them know that there is hope if they focus on doing the right thing,” Day said.
“They think that this whole system is about beating you down – nobody will give you a job, you’re not going to get anywhere with your life. And I try to debunk a lot of the myths and stereotypes.
“You hear that I’m a vice president, that I teach at Columbia (University), and I have all this stuff going on,” he continued. “You would never think I was formerly incarcerated – unless I told you.”
Day spoke of the career options SJNY criminal justice students have once they graduate and opportunities at organizations that don’t enforce the law or the system, like the Fortune Society.