Presque Isle, Maine – Shyquinn Dix, a sophomore at the University of Maine at Presque Isle (UMPI) and point guard for the Owls, was recently featured on 60 Minutes as an unusual success story.
A successful high school basketball player, Dix (known as Shy to his friends) initially enrolled at North Platte Community College in Nebraska, a nationally recognized powerhouse in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA). He performed well there, both academically and athletically, but was drawn back to his hometown of Stamford, Connecticut with family commitments.
Dix struggled without school and basketball to keep him on track, and was charged in a check-fraud scheme that landed him in prison with a four-year sentence; the same amount of time it would take to complete college.
After a year and a half in the general population at Cheshire Correctional Institution in Connecticut, Dix found out about the T.R.U.E program focused on rehabilitating 18-25-year-old offenders. The unique program was inspired by similar programs in Germany, and provided mentors, structure, counseling, and a supportive community that many inmates were lacking on the outside.
A correctional officer in the T.R.U.E unit, James Vassar saw something in Dix that inspired him to help Shy seek a second chance in life and in basketball. Dan Kane, Athletic Director and Head Men's Basketball Coach at the University of Maine at Presque Isle, provided that second chance.
"When I met Shy, I was surprised at how he owned everything he had done," Coach Kane said. "He didn't make excuses. And, while he's a great basketball player, what I really wanted to hear was what he wanted to get out of life going forward."
Dix has lived up to his promise to be better, and has excelled at UMPI this year. He made the Dean's List in the fall semester, and earned First-Team All-Conference honors for his outstanding performance on the basketball court this season.
He is grateful for the program and the people who gave him a second chance, and continues to pay it forward through his team, campus, and community.
"I want to make a difference bigger than just my city," he said. "That's the whole reason I did the 60 Minutes thing, to get it out there that it can happen so that other people can have the same chance."