Tara Gazzuolo is a business owner, a graphic designer, and an author. She said she isn’t proud of her past, but how far she has come.
Gazzuolo served 7 years in prison for child endangerment. While she was in prison, she took a graphics design course through Central Georgia Technical College that she said turned her life around.
Central Georgia Tech's program is part of a statewide effort to reduce the number of offenders who commit crimes again by improving job training.
The program offers a certificate program with on-the-job training. They have 30 instructors who teach Welding, Design and Media Production, Horticulture, Diesel Truck Maintenance, Animal Healthcare, and Barbering.
Brittany Lucas, executive director for re-entry services at CGTC, said that the programs has been going for 15 years now. They average about 538-540 students per semester depending on who qualifies.
For Lucas, working for the program is very rewarding. “They’re writing to us, they’re thanking us, but more than anything, they're bragging on themselves on looking of what I’m able to do because of the program the college offered to me,” said Lucas
Gazzuolo said that it is so important to continue funding a program like this one. The program helped her to keep busy while in prison and gave her a positive way to better herself. “But just because someone is in prison does not mean they shouldn’t get to better themselves.”
Gazzuolo still keeps up with the friends she has made in her courses. While only one is working in the graphics design field, she says that the lessons they learned have helped them get better jobs. She said that none of them have gone back to prison.