ROCK HILL, SC – Rotavis Ashcraft grew from a young man in state prison at the age of 16 to a college student, where he performed all the Aces and B’s.
Ashcraft saw several people like him inside the Foothills Correctional Facility in Morganton without management and few workers had empathy.
“I’ve seen a lot of things,” Ashcraft told Channel 9. “I’ve seen a lot. I finally thought to myself, I have to be the one to change that. I can change it, you know.
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Ashcraft had a desire to learn and help others by obtaining a GED behind bars.
“I tell people, prison is one of the greatest things that has happened to me because it showed me who I really am.”
He said the prison time gave him discipline.
“I feel like if I had never been in jail I would probably have died,” Ashcraft said. “It was the alternative for me. The lifestyle I led, people tell me, “There are only two ways out: the prison or the grave.”
Ashcraft applied to Clinton College in Rock Hill after his release and openly revealed his conviction.
As a teenager, Ashcraft admits he lived dangerously.
“Skip school,” he said. “I was there fighting, my hands were on drugs, my hands were on guns.”
He was shooting utility poles and did not know people were working nearby.
“One was behind the devices, and I was shooting bullets, unaware at the time,” Ashcraft said. “I thought if the bullets hit the devices, they would just fall. But they ricocheted. and they were hitting these people. One of the guys came out and yelled at me and I ran away. And I was in my house not knowing that I had just shot three people.
He was convicted of assault with a lethal weapon with intent to kill and several other counts.
Jocelyn Biggs was part of a special committee that investigated Ashcraft’s criminal past and was impressed by the mentors who supported him.
“One of the administrators of the prison he was in,” she said: ‘I know you had a hard time getting the documents he needed, ”said Biggs, vice president of the prison. registration management. “She said, ‘If I had to drive to Raleigh and pick them up and get them to Rock Hill, I would.’ She said, ‘This young man is super awesome and now is his time to shine.’ “
Toneyce Randolph, vice president of academic services at Clinton College, said Ashcraft is a model student.
“He’s doing really well,” Randolph said. “He is currently making Aces and B’s.”
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Ashcraft hopes to become a lawyer to help other young people like him navigate the legal system.
Ashcraft has a message for young people who have a chance to avoid the difficult road he has come.
“Keep God first, most important, and do your best to stay away from those who want to see you fall,” Ashcraft said. “Stay away from those who always want you to do wrong. Especially, if mom gives you good advice, mom, dad, grandmother will listen to them, because if I had listened to my
mom and grandma, I probably wouldn’t have gone to jail.
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Ashcraft said the icing on the cake is that her tuition is free this year.
To help families already struggling due to the pandemic, Clinton College used COVID-19 relief funding to provide free tuition to students during the 2021-2022 school year.
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