LONG BEACH, Calif. — California State University, Long Beach graduates will walk across the stage during an in-person ceremony at Angel Stadium starting May 28.

Dale Lendrum will celebrate with the other College of Education students on May 30. He already had a virtual hooding ceremony earlier at his home after earning his doctorate degree of educational leadership with a specialization in community college/higher education and an emphasis in social justice.

What You Need To Know

  • California State University, Long Beach graduates will celebrate in-person starting May 28 at Angel Stadium

  • Dale Lendrum used to be addicted to drugs and has been imprisoned multiple times

  • Lendrum recently earned his doctorate degree

  • He aims to teach currently incarcerated people to keep them from returning to prison

Through his studies, Lendrum has found a way to change the very system that changed his life. Twelve years ago, he was applying for financial aid from a jail cell. Between the ages of 18 and 48, Lendrum was either jailed or imprisoned almost 30 times, but everything changed when he stepped into a classroom while in custody.

Lendrum found sobriety. He also met his wife on campus and discovered a way to make a difference, thanks to one professor’s suggestion.

"He said, 'Have you ever thought of teaching?' And I looked at him like he was higher than I used to get, and I used to get pretty high," Lendrum said.

Lendrum started teaching while getting his masters and doctorate. He then started doing research for his final dissertation that included 20 interviews with formerly incarcerated women pursuing degrees during a pandemic.

“What’s been going on with the women has been kind of pushed over to the margins and into the shadows,” he said.

Not one of Lendrum's subjects returned to jail after they started to pursue higher education. He learned something he had already lived: Classes help keep people from returning to prison.

Even though employment is still not easy for Lendrum to secure, given his record, he aims to teach currently incarcerated people.

“What they did to become incarcerated is often on them, but how we as a society as a state prepare them to be released that’s on us,” he said.

Lendrum's father and mother did not live to see his doctoral graduation, but he still believes they’re seeing him become the example he used to look up to before he traded an orange jumpsuit for black and blue ceremonial robes.