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Pelican Bay Scholars

Pelican Bay Scholars


About Us

The Pelican Bay Scholars program began in 2015 and provides face-to-face college courses to incarcerated students in the far northern region of California. Students can earn an AA Liberal Arts Degree in Behavioral and Social Sciences and complete the required GE courses to be eligible to transfer to a California State University.

CR strives to provide a top-quality college program to our Pelican Bay students, with services that are reflective of those a student would receive on campus: access to textbooks and course materials, transcript evaluation, academic counseling, career planning, transfer assistance, and statewide college networking.

The Students

The Pelican Bay Scholars student body is comprised of dedicated students who thrive as learners, are engaged, hard-working, respectful and eager to access higher education opportunities.


The Partnership

The Pelican Bay Scholars program has been made possible through achieving a positive and reciprocal relationship between College of the Redwoods, the student scholars and Pelican Bay State Prison.


The Pelican Bay Scholars Program provides a space to address literacy disparities and offer quality education opportunities in a learning environment that promotes collaboration, individuality, capability and empowerment; to support students in leading meaningful and productive lives inside and outside of prison; and to provide education that boosts economic vitality for students as contributors and leaders within their communities.

Del Norte_Pelican Bay Scholars

Success & Retention

Success and retention

Education Changes Lives.

This is true not only for people on the outside, but for prisoners as well—especially for prisoners. We come from circumstances where education was either not an option; for most of us, surviving our immediate environment was the only thing we worried about. The greatest irony is that this lack of education is what led us to thinking we had no options.

Prison is one of the most hopeless places; for those of us who face lengthy sentences, even more so. We all made mistakes that led us to where we are. But now that we are here, what comes next? Certainly, there is more to life than to sit idly in his cell and waste away, but for many years, we had no hope of doing more. We had nothing that told us there were still possibilities for us to live a productive life. All we had were long suppressed dreams of what could have been.

Education however changed this kind of thinking. It not only gave us knowledge, it transformed our perspectives. It helps us realize the possibility of a better future and that we can still contribute something of substance to society."

-Brian Yang/Pelican Bay Scholar

Program Highlights

  • 28 Dean’s List and 50 President’s Honor Roll students during Fall 2021
  • Serving two level IV and one level II facilities within Pelican Bay State Prison.
  • Students enroll in 1-5 courses (3-17.5 units) each semester.


  • Individualized educational planning, financial aid and college transfer preparation assistance.
  • A hands-on learning environment with materials and support labs.
  • Opportunities to emerge as leaders within the learning environment.
  • Workshops with guest speakers to connect and learn about professions, overcoming barriers, university transfer and appropriate engagement in professional environments.

Course Offerings:

AJ 1: Intro to Administration of Justice

ART 1A: Art History: Pre-History to Gothic
ART 1B: Art History: Renaissance to Contemporary
ART 4: Art Appreciation

ANTH 1: Biological Anthropology
ANTH 1B: Biological Anthropology Lab
ANTH 3: Cultural Anthropology

ASTRO 10: Intro to Astronomy

BIOL 1: General Biology w/Lab
BIOL 27: Biology of Marine Mammals

BUS 10: Intro to Business
BUS 52: Business Communications
BUS 68: Intro to Management

COMM 1: Public Speaking
COMM 2: Introduction to Communication Theory
COMM 7: Interpersonal Communication

DRAMA 24: Intro to Theatre

ENVSC 12: Earth's Changing Climate

EDUC 220: Career and College Foundations
GS 1: College Success
GS 6: First Year Experience
GUID 8: Career Planning
GUID 205: Supervised Tutoring
MATH 252: Math Support Lab
WORK 201: Work Readiness Skills

ENGL 1A: Analytical Reading and Writing
ENGL 1B: Critical Inquiry and Literature
ENGL 1L: English Support Lab
ENGL 1S: English Support Lab
ENGL 4: Why Literature Matters
ENGL 17: American Literature
ENGL 18: American Literature II
ENGL 32: Creative Writing: Poetry
ENGL 33: Creative Writing
ENGL 36: Literary Magazine Publication
ENGL 102: Developing Reading and Writing
ENGL 150: Precollegiate Reading and Writing

GEOL 10: Environmental Geology

HIST 8: US History through Reconstruction
HIST 9: US History Reconstruction-Present 
HIST 20: World History I

MATH 15: Intro to Statistics
MATH 15L: Intro to Statistics Support Lab
MATH 15S: Intro to Statistics Support Lab

MUS 10: Music in History

PHIL 2: Intro to Political Philosophy
PHIL 10: Intro to Philosophy
PHIL 15: Religions of the World

POLSC 1: Political Controversies
POLSC 10: US Government and Politics

PSYCH 1: General Psychology
PSYCH 11: strong>Lifespan Development
PSYCH 30: Social Psychology
PSYCH 33: Personal Growth and Adjustment

Read 260: Developing Literacy

SWHS 1: Intro to Social Work & Human Services

SOC 1: Intro to Sociology
SOC 2: Social Problems
SOC 5: Intro to Race & Ethnic Relations
SOC 34: Intro to Social Work

Sections and Staff


2019 Graduates


David Nguyen
My parents always wanted me and my siblings to pursue education. Because there were so few opportunities back in Vietnam, they thought that living in America would give us a chance at a better life. For a while, it seemed that my parents’ dream was just that—a dream. 

I began my journey in the fall of 2015 as one of the handful of students to start CR’s Pelican Bay Scholars pilot program, and I’ve watched it grow from a tentative one class a semester to a full-fledged college program that runs yearlong; classes are begin offered from morning to night and students now have the privilege of taking on full schedules, if they choose to. It’s this choice that gives the real college experience; it’s this choice that makes us feel like we’re no longer prisoners, but actual students. I remember the many nights when my friend K and I would walk back to the unit and talk about all we learned and the possibilities of what our futures could be like if we continued to take advantage of what CR was providing. 

Thanks to CR, I can now say that my parents’ dream is no longer just a dream. 


Larry Vickers

Education has always been an aspiration of mine. I believe that for one to do better they have to know better. 

For me, coming to prison as a child forced me to live with the bad choices I made to get me here, among them was dropping out of school. Being given an opportunity to acquire my associated degree through the CR Pelican Bay Scholars program as an opportunity of a lifetime. A degree in behavioral and social science not only gives me the tools I need to transform myself into a better person it puts me in position to make positive contributions to my family, community and society as a whole. It’s a high point in my progress towards rehabilitation through education. With the knowledge I have obtained while pursuing my degree I am certain I will not exit prison as a criminal but as a college educated man with a purpose and for that privilege I am forever grateful!



The CR Pelican Bay Scholars program began in 2015 with non-credit Math and English preparatory classes.  

During the Spring 2016 semester 21 students enrolled in the first “for credit” course; as of Fall 2019, over 300 students are enrolled in one or more of the 40 course offerings.

As of the Spring 2022 semester, the program continues to serves over 400 students and has issued 94 Associate Degrees.



Contact Us

Contact Information

 Rory Johnson, MA


 Tory Eagles, MSW


 883 W. Washington Blvd., Crescent City, CA 95531
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  2023 College of the Redwoods