September is always special to Jimmie C. Gardner. In 2016, that was the month when charges leading to his wrongful conviction and a legal nightmare lasting nearly 30 years were finally dismissed.

This year the anniversary is especially extraordinary. Gardner, now a motivational speaker and advocate for prison reform and inmate rights, became a full-time student at Chapman University, his attendance made possible with a full-ride with Presidential Scholarship.

“I had the opportunity to enroll and be a part of Chapman University and the Panthers. I jumped right in with five classes,” said Gardner, who is a communication studies major.

“I just felt at home and loved,” he says. “I’ve had opportunities to go to other universities, but when the Chapman offer came, I didn’t hesitate.”

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