Grateful Scholarship Recipient Returns to San Quentin
The first recipient of a special college scholarship came back to San Quentin State Prison to thank military veterans serving prison time for helping her through college.
Vietnam Veterans Group of San Quentin has been giving college-bound high school graduates scholarships for decades; however, in 2004 the group began giving inspirational scholarships for exceptional students.
What began as a journal entry by Mary Manly, titled My Day at San Quentin with the VVGSQ, became the beginning of the special award.
She begins the entry by acknowledging her apprehensive and intimidated feelings about coming inside a prison. However, once she met the men, she wrote, “I can’t begin to express to you the impressionable impact that this emotional day has had on me— one that I will remember the rest of my life.”
She added, “On the way to prison this morning, I was telling my mom that out of all the scholarships that I have received (a total of 5), this one meant the most.”
The San Quentin veterans said her story so deeply impacted them that the special scholarship was renamed in her honor—The Mary Manly Inspirational Award. Mary’s mother, Jo Lynn Manly, was so impressed by the work of VVGSQ that she volunteers to run the group’s web site: http:// vvgsq.tripod.com
“These inmates gave us a good hard look at life that day — one that I hope I will never forget,” Jo Lynn said. “Here is a small group of men making a significant difference in the world, a world they have taken advantage of, and have now been called to pay the price for, a world they cannot even see. They are truly blessed with a very special gift.”
“The money I received from the VVGSQ helped me buy the books I needed to make it through college,” Mary said.
“The inmates were so gracious, heartfelt, sincere and honest, and throughout the day presented me with bits of themselves— their share of history and knowledge,” Jo Ann said.
“An honor so bestowed on only a few, from such honorable men, who unfortunately made a mistake in their lives, but lest we forget, also defended our freedoms,” Jo Ann added.
Mary has since graduated from Brigham Young University and said she plans to join the military and train in military intelligence.