Social worker Iris Kupferstein made sure a Brooklyn, N.Y. student earned his diploma behind bars, staying on his case and even sending him books with the hard covers removed to comply with jail policy.
Ruddy Mirabal, 20, didn't let her down and became the city's first student to get a diploma instead of a GED while in jail, the New York Daily News reports. He says he was inspired by Kupferstein:
"She was telling me to keep a positive state of mind and keep working hard because anything is possible if you put your mind to it."
But now Mirabal, who has been transferred to a youth correctional facility, needs her help again.
He's plead guilty to felony cocaine possession after he says he was tricked into holding the drugs on a deal.
But that means Mirabal will be deported to his former home of the Dominican Republic when he's paroled. At the time of his arrest, he had a pending application for a green card, the Daily News reports.
He says he didn't realize the consequence of his plea, and Kupferstein is now trying to convince authorities that he should stay.
"So many people are in the wrong place at the wrong time and don't think of the consequence...I was told, you know, 'Oh, forget it. Immigrants with a drug charge -- don't even bother, save your money, you don't need a lawyer.' I just can't accept that because I don't think that's how things should work."