Calvin Prison Initiative Student Nick Kelly’s Thank-You Letter

A heartfelt message from student Nick Kelly. To read the full letter, click here.

     My name is Nick Kelly. I humbly come from a lower class family where my dad is a farmer and my mother a factory worker. I never had the chance to receive a higher education. When I got locked up I was 26 years old and handed a 30-60 year sentence. I did not want to live anymore. I was under severe depression and anxiety and was ready to jump off the third tier balcony at quarantine in Jackson Prison. The only thing that stopped me was that I opened my “Free at last” prison-issued Bible and began to read it. It wasn’t until then that I realized that God had a plan for me.

    I has been far from easy the past nine years in prison. I have been jumped and robbed by prisoners and talked down to by corrections officers. I have also seen a fair share of brutal violence, and even witnessed deaths. I once heard a guy who had been down for over 40 years call this place the “devil’s playground.” This statement was not far from the truth. After going through all of these things and getting turned down by the appeals court, I began to lose hope once again. I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel. I once again slipped into depression mode.

    Then came last June when I heard that Calvin College was offering a program that was offering a degree in Ministry Leadership. As a Christian, I thought, “What a great opportunity that would be.” I put my application in, answered a few essay questions, and then prayed about it. Two months later, I was on the phone with my mom when a corrections officer handed me a letter. I was nervous to open it, but my mom told me to go ahead and do it. When I opened it my heard skipped a beat: I was accepted! My eyes filled with tears as my mom cried on the other end. She and my father told me something that I haven’t heard from them in so long, “I’m proud of you, son.