In his youth he took things from others, but now Moraine Valley Community College graduate Daniel Geiter is giving back.

Geiter, who spent much of his young adult years in and out of correctional facilities in Chicago, opened a nonprofit college, specifically geared toward ex-offenders, but open to anyone.

“I’ve been given chances—let’s face it, lots of chances—to turn my life around, and I’ve been blessed at every stage,” said Geiter. “I am fortunate to be able to turn a dream into a reality that will hopefully fulfill the dreams of others.”

In 2016, Geiter opened Ward College, which focuses on workforce development, certificate programs, and other degree programs. It’s located on the south side of Chicago.

“I want to give people the same opportunity I was given,” said Geiter. “Life after incarceration is not fair, opportunities post-incarceration are few; and building bridges with family, loved ones, and friends is essential. Education is key to building that bridge.”

Geiter began his college career at Moraine Valley in 2008. He felt at home on the college’s campus and was taken under the wing of Katherine Foreman, professor of Biology who retired in 2005.

“Katherine Foreman saw something in me, and she became my mentor,” said Geiter. “Even to this day, not only is she my friend, but she is on the board of advisors of Ward College.”

After earning his associate degree in 2009, Geiter had the desire to continue his education and he enrolled at Saint Xavier University. Financial difficulties almost prevented him from finishing his degree—almost.

Saint Xavier’s Sister Sue Sanders answered his plea for help and turned out to be “his angel,” Geiter said. Sister Sanders’ assistance helped find him the inspiration to give back.

“Sister Sue set me up with a donor who covered my expenses and tuition so I could continue my academic progress and finish school,” said Geiter. “The only request the donor had was that I repay the favor to someone else one day.”

That request inspired Geiter to enroll in and complete a master’s degree in liberal arts from the University of Chicago. He recently earned a doctorate in education from Benedictine University in the Higher Education and Organization Development Program.

“While I was reaching higher and higher in my education, all I could think about was how far I’ve come and how I could give back,” said Geiter. “I am making my vision a reality.”

His vision was to provide a place for ex-cons to learn and cultivate ideas in order have a successful new life. Faculty mentors from various stages of his college career provided guidance in achieving his goal.

“What I’ve experienced at Moraine Valley, I want to duplicate at Ward—the sense of community,” said Geiter. “I couldn’t have done this alone. It takes a village sometimes, and I am proud to be part of that village.”