Ex-convict graduates college with high honors, lands dream job

HARTFORD -- An ex-convict found himself in prison for more than a decade for a crime he committed at a young age.

On Thursday evening, 31-year-old Jose Negron, of Hartford, graduated Quinebaug Valley Community College with high honors.

At 16-years old, he committed a crime and was arrested after he hung out with people of who he thought were his friends. For the first few years behind bars, he said he still did not know what he did wrong until certain people stepped into his life.

“You don’t forget the sound of the door closing,” said Negron.

For most teenagers, they look forward to prom and graduation, but for Negron, he had prison to look forward to.

“I got burglary first, robbery first, kidnapping and conspiracy to commit arson,” added Negron.

During the beginning of his sophomore year at East Hartford High School, a friend asked for his help. That help landed him in serious trouble with police as they raided his home after an arrest warrant was issued.

“The cops were there and they rushed in,” added Negron.

It led to Negron being in prison for 13 and a half years.

“I didn’t see a future,” added Negron.

It was not until his fifth year at the Cheshire Correctional Institution did he have an epiphany. Voluntarily, he entered into a program for three months with hopes to turn his life around all while he met one of his professors who gave him a big wakeup call.

During that time, Quinebaug Valley Community College offered free courses at the prison. Time was flying while he was studying hard.

“I kind of wanted to elevate myself to a status that people wouldn’t even dream of,” added Negron.

It was then 13 months ago when Negron was released and he took a picture with his mother.

“She keeps reminding me that jail raised me,” added Negron.

He graduated with a 3.6 GPA with high honors and a certificate in advanced manufacturing at QVCC. That is when he knew the ankle bracelet he has been wearing did not matter anymore.

“Yesterday was a very proud moment for me. Why should I be ashamed?” added Negron.

He said he never really talked about his past until he sat down with FOX 61.

“It still hasn’t hit me,” added Negron.

Negron said he is working on getting an associate’s degree in Tech Studies. Just recently, he landed a job he has been working hard for as well as working at Five Guys in West Hartford.