June 13, 2018
Story by Micah Oelze
Courtesy Photo from KDOC
Barton Career Advisor Nicole Serpan, who works with inmates at Ellsworth Correctional Facility (ECF) via the Building Academic Skills In Correctional Settings (BASICS) program, was named the Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC) Outstanding Contract Employee of the Year. She received a certificate from Governor Colyer upon meeting with him Monday morning at the Capitol Building in Topeka.
Serpan was nominated for employee of the first quarter for the 2018 fiscal year by her peers at ECF. ECF then voted her employee of the year out of all of the employee of the quarter nominees. She wasn’t aware she had been chosen for KDOC Contract Employee prior to her visit to Topeka and was incredibly surprised when they called her name.”
“I just hit my second year working here in this position,” she said. “I didn’t even think it would happen. I was just shocked; I was shaking.”
On a near daily basis, Serpan meets with inmates who are interested in Barton’s BASICS program. Inmates fill out a form to meet with her before she begins a vetting process. She made 949 contacts in her year and so far has over 1000 contacts this year. The welding program alone had over 200 inmates interested in which they narrowed to 40 interviewees, and only 12 were selected.
“The [Basics] program is growing, and the word is spreading,” Serpan said. “It is exciting because it shows that [the inmates] have some hope. Even if they don’t get accepted the first time around, they are back the next time. They are not going to give up; this is what they want which just shows us the motivation and dedication to their future.”
In May of 2017, KDOC announced that Larned Mental Health Correctional Facility (LMHCF) had been outgrown by the needs of the current population of inmates, who are now being moved to the El Dorado Correctional Facility. LMHCF will be taking on a new mission focusing on reducing the reoffending rate for males aged 18-25. With this new population change, Serpan is eagerly preparing for an increase in her workload.
“They are in prison and may have hit rock bottom,” she said. “But when they enter into a Barton program, they start seeing what they can accomplish, and that hopelessness starts to turn to help and no plans to planning for the future. We light that fire, and they can accomplish anything they put their mind to, and we truly believe that.”