I Feel I Can Conquer The World

Tuesday, June 06, 2023 | 01:32pm
Graduate from TCAT

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – To the naked eye, Demetrius Dotson looks like any other graduate. With a royal blue cap and gown, complete with a silver 2023 emblem dangling from the tassel - his state issued prison blue uniform is hardly noticeable. But Demetrius’ journey is far from average.

On Friday, he was one of ten inmates at the Turney Center Industrial Complex (TCIX) to graduate from the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT), receiving multiple certifications in Building Construction Technology and Plumbing & Electrical. He’d never imagined getting his education from the Tennessee Department of Correction, but in hindsight, coming to prison allowed him to focus on himself and growing as a person.

TCAT Graduate accepting certificate

“It’s weird to say it, but it’s better in here,” Dotson said. “Since we’re so put inside a box right now, we have a choice to be willing to learn and succeed and take heed to the knowledge that we’re given. If I was on the town, I feel like I would have so many distractions. In here, this is what we strive for - to get out and be better and better our mindset.”

Before being convicted of Especially Aggravated Burglary and coming to prison in 2018, Demetrius had never been to jail before. He describes himself as a good father, a good friend, brother, and nephew - who got mixed up with the wrong people. Having just turned 27 this month and spending the last six years behind bars, Demetrius says he has found himself in prison, and takes responsibility for his actions.

“I made bad decisions on my own, this is not because of anybody else. I still had the same heart, I just had different tendencies and flaws I don’t have anymore,” he said. “I think I got smarter; I’ve learned more. I just feel better now; I feel different, I feel joyful, more energy. I feel I can conquer the world – nothing can stop me now.”

Graduation Cap and Certificate

With only months left to serve, Demetrius will be released in September. Having worked in construction renovating houses before coming to prison, he plans to put his new certifications to use and provide for his family. He is grateful to have received the opportunity to further his education while incarcerated and asks that society will continue to give him and his fellow graduates the chance to succeed.

“Don’t give up on us,” he asks. “I know we have flaws; I know we made bad decisions, I know we made mistakes, but we can do better. Just give us the chance, the opportunity, just give us that little push that we need.”

In total, 51 men graduated from TCIX last week, with diplomas or certifications in Adult Basic Education, Career Management for Success, Cosmetology, Carpentry II, Personal Training, Building Construction Technology (TCAT), Plumbing & Electrical (TCAT), or Computer Information Technology (TCAT).