Most students who receive cash gifts for graduation are eager to celebrate by spending. Not so with Megan Inman, a 2013 Lipscomb graduate. Instead, she passed her gifts on to Lipscomb University to support a program about which she is passionate -- the LIFE program.
LIFE -- the Lipscomb Initiative for Education -- has been in the business of changing lives since 2007. The program provides classes for inmates at the Tennessee Prison for Women, classes also attended by traditional Lipscomb students.
During her freshman year, Inman was one of those traditional students. After taking a course called Society and the Law in the prison setting, Inman said she knew what she wanted to do, and changed her major from psychology to law, justice, and society.
“I went in, like anybody, just terrified. I was nervous and didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know who I was going to be sitting next to or what they were going to look like,” Inman said. “The women came into the classroom just as nervous as we were. By the end of the first class, everybody seemed to connect. The barriers went down very fast.”
The LIFE program was created to benefit both parties, and Inman said she hopes her gift will help the program continue. Inman said she and her classmates gained a new perspective on people and culture.
“People in society tend to think ‘out of sight, out of mind’ and that these people just deserve to be [in prison]. I think you learn very quickly that people make mistakes, but society tends to look at the person and their crime and not who they were before the crime or who they could be,” Inman said.
Dr. Richard Goode, Lipscomb professor and leader of the LIFE program, has had a significant impact in Inman’s life.
“He has a big heart for people who don’t necessarily have a voice, or that have a voice but don’t have an opportunity to share what they have to say,” Inman said.
Because of the opportunities provided by the LIFE program, Inman gained a new perspective on her calling and was inspired to live generously.
“Ever since I stepped foot into the prison, I knew this would be a huge change for me and what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. It gave so much to me as a person, emotionally and spiritually, I felt like the least I could do was donate something to allow the program to continue and allow those women to start over and make a change,” Inman said. “If something impacts you that much, giving back is natural.”
Inman works as a resident counselor at the Mental Health Cooperative. She says she plans to stay engaged with the incarcerated population working with juveniles.