Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Graduation Puts `Kemba's Nightmare' Further in the Past. (Noteworthy News)

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Graduation Puts `Kemba's Nightmare' Further in the Past. (Noteworthy News)

Article excerpt

RICHMOND, VA.

Kemba Smith, who spent six years in prison before being freed by President Bill Clinton in December 2000, received her bachelor's degree from Virginia Union University last month.

Smith, whose ordeal made her a national symbol for critics of mandatory sentences for first-time drug offenders, has set her sights on becoming a lawyer.

"It just seems right for me to pursue law, to have that title to go along with my advocacy," says Smith, 30.

Smith was a student at Hampton University when she became caught up in a drug ring run by her boyfriend. She was sentenced to 24 1/2 years in prison in 1994.

She earned some college credits in prison and enrolled at Virginia Union, a private college in Richmond, after her sentence was commuted by Clinton.

Virginia Union has a history of reaching out to young people who have endured difficult circumstances, says Delores Scott, vice president for student affairs.

"We' re proud to have done that for Miss Smith, and we wish her the best in her future endeavors," she says. …

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