WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Dr. Jack Monell is an inspiring example of how education can change someone's life and the community around him. But this is not how life started for Monell.

After the death of his father, he found himself in a juvenile detention facility, long before Monell made his life in Winston-Salem.

He grew up in public housing in New York City without the presence of his father because he struggled with drug addiction and got in trouble with the law. Monell was 15 when his father died and then things spiraled out of control.

"Unfortunately, the streets had more of a gravitational pull as far as my behavior went and because of that, I engaged in juvenile delinquent activities that ultimately changed the course of my life," Monell explains.

He was in a juvenile detention center in upstate New York from 15 to 19 years old but a counselor noticed how sharp he was and encouraged him to go to college.

"There's always retribution. There's always redemption, and for me, education was that redemption. Education saved my life," Monell emphasizes.

He got his bachelor's degree from Towson State University and then went on to get a master's degree at Howard University and a Ph.D. from Walden University.

Now, he's a justice studies professor at Winston-Salem State University, where he's trying to help students become the best versions of themselves and give back to the community.

Monell says there's still a lot of work to be done, so he's going to continue teaching and fighting for social justice.