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Jacob Sherman was released from his three year sentence in federal prison in 2006.
This Sunday, he will graduate from Portland State University, near the top of his class with a master’s degree.
"I think that a lot of my past has influenced where I am today," Sherman said.
Sherman started attending PSU in 2000 straight out of high school.
"Very quickly, I excelled in my studies and got wrapped up in some radical environmental politics; Tre Arrow and a couple of other people, and subsequently found myself passionate but very misguided, committing some crimes that landed me in federal prison for three years," Sherman said.
In 2001, Sherman pleaded guilty to firebombing logging and equipment trucks, causing more than $250,000 in damage.
When he got out of prison, he headed right back to PSU, attending classes while residing in a halfway house.
Since his return to PSU, Sherman has been active on campus, playing a major role in the Take Back the Tap campaign, which works to to help reduce the number of plastic water bottles used on campus. He was one of the students responsible for getting 20 water refilling stations, called Hydration Stations, installed on campus.
"Just one of the stations has saved 125,000 sixteen ounce bottles from being produced," Sherman said.
For the 2010-11 school year he was named both PSU Student Employee of the Year and Oregon Student Employee of the Year.
Sherman credits his professors and some of the men he met in prison for his successful turnaround.
"During that time, I met some of the most intelligent men in the world who (had) made mistakes, but (I) got to really know them and hear some of their stories about how not having a good education impacted them," Sherman said.
Sherman will deliver one of the student commencement speeches Sunday before graduating near the top of his class with a master’s in Science and Educational Leadership.