An opportunity for a better life once out of prison: that's what 27 incarcerated adults currently at CoreCivic are hoping for now that they've graduated.

Graduates earned various Diplomas and Certificates at Northeast Ohio Correctional Center over the past few years, and celebrated with staff and family for their hard work.

Youngstown Mayor Tito Brown was the keynote speaker, talking to the graduates about perseverance and standing tall in the face of adversity.

"As you continue your journey, I want you to show courage," said Brown.

Educators at the correctional facility say having at least a high school diploma greatly improves the chances of better jobs and opportunity once inmates are released.

"Step one, I want to come home and be a pillar of my community and show the young guys that there more to life than what they're seeing out there," said Jessie Driver, one of the new graduates. "I lost my life to prison, but now my life is just beginning."

Jessie earned his associates degree from Ashland University. Fourteen students earned a business certificate, and twelve received their high school diplomas.

"Today, you are not incarcerated adults. You're not offenders, you're not inmates. You're graduates," said Warden Dave Bobby.