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Mom of three who served time for burglary reveals how she landed internship at Princeton University

The woman dropped out of high school in 10th grade and although she was later able to get her GED, she didn't pursue further education until she ended up in prison.

Mom of three who served time for burglary reveals how she landed internship at Princeton University
Cover Image Source: Facebook | Mary McCrary

Some people want to make the best of their life despite having been through a tough time. Mary McCrary, a 40-year-old woman from Nashville, Tennessee, is one of them. She spent more than three years in prison and is now interning at Princeton University, reports Good Morning America. McCrary decided to take a different path in life after taking a coding class during her time in prison. She shared that taking the class made her feel like a human being and that she was working toward a goal.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Mikhail Nilov
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Mikhail Nilov

McCrary dropped out of high school in 10th grade. However, she was later able to complete her General Educational Development (GED). She opened up that she enrolled in the coding class after she hit a breaking point. "When you get to a point where you're tired and don't even want to live and you're hopeless and you feel useless and worthless, you have the decision to make," the mom of three revealed. "I made the decision to use this time to do something different, to change my life, because I didn't want to keep doing the same things and getting in trouble and doing whatever I had to to survive because it gets you in the exact same place."


She took the coding class while at Debra K. Rehabilitation Center in Nashville. According to the Tennesse Department of Correction, she served time at the center due to a parole violation after being convicted of aggravated burglary. After finishing six months of coding classes, McCrary became certified in front-end coding and then continued her studies at Nashville State Community College, which had a program for inmates. In May, McCrary was given parole and by then, she already had multiple credits towards her associate's degree and they helped her get an internship at Princeton.


She now lives on campus and reportedly works with fellow students performing data analysis in a computational biology and psychology research program. Bridgett vonHoldt, Ph.D., an associate professor at Princeton and the head of the internship program, described the 40-year-old as a "role model" student. VonHodt said, "Her dedication to building her future is evident in how she does not shy away from challenges and the unknown. She is a role model, demonstrating for anyone who thinks such change is impossible that nothing is impossible."

The former prison inmate shared that she is "soaking up her time" at Princeton as this is just the second time she has traveled out of Tennessee and the first time she has seen the ocean. "This has been life-changing in more ways than one," she said. "This is an unbelievable, sometimes overwhelming experience." Frank Strada, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Correction, told the outlet that people like McCrary are the reason that they have rehabilitation programs in their prisons. He said, "Mary represents what we're doing in the state of Tennessee. We are very strongly behind rehabilitation and reentry of our offenders back into the community. We're all about second chances and trying to build success."

McCrary's internship will end in August. She wants to return to Nashville and complete her final year of classes to earn her AA degree. She hopes that people will be able to learn from her life. "If you look at my past, it's a crazy shamble mess, but look now, look what can happen," the 40-year-old shared. "Nothing is ever impossible." Stories of people like McCrary will surely give hope to many that they can change the trajectory of their lives at any point and achieve great things.

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