“Five years ago, I was starving on a park bench after being released from prison. I didn’t know how to navigate the free world.”

At age 17, Steven Hensley was incarcerated for nearly six years. Following his release, he worked tirelessly to secure employment, housing and admission into Fresno State. Now, Hensley is the undergraduate Dean’s Medalist for the College of Arts and Humanities. The College of Arts and Humanities commencement ceremony is at 12:30 p.m. on Friday, May 20, at the Save Mart Center.

A double major, he earned bachelor’s degrees in philosophy (pre-law option) and political science. Next fall, Hensley will attend the University of California, Berkeley School of Law.

During his first semester at Fresno State, Hensley co-founded Youngsters for Change, a non-profit organization designed to help at-risk and formerly incarcerated youth. He is the student coordinator for Bulldogs for Recovery and was recently elected to serve on the Board of Directors for ACLU of Northern California.

By harnessing his practical and deeply personal understanding of the justice system, Hensley plans to contribute a uniquely empathetic perspective to theoretical legal discussions while representing the lived experience of those impacted by incarceration and poverty.

Celebrating the Class of 2022
In the coming days, FresnoStateNews.com will highlight stories of inspiring students who will be graduating this spring. Commencement ceremonies for the University’s eight colleges and schools along with several affinity celebrations will take place May 20 and 21. Visit commencement.fresnostate.edu for more details.