Thursday, July 25, 2024

Seamstress earns more than professors

$57,697 — that’s how much money Joyce Mitchell, the former sewing instructor for Clinton County Correctional Facility, made in one year before she was convicted of assisting the escapes of prisoners David Sweat and Richard Matt.

The minimum salary for an assistant professor at Plattsburgh State on Sept. 1, 2015, according to, is $39,229.

It doesn’t take a genius to know which number is bigger, and is most certainly doesn’t take a genius to say, “Why the hell is a seamstress at a prison making more than my professor who has a college degree?”

And just to be clear, I’m not trying to put down seamstresses here. I’m sure they work hard, but Mitchell didn’t need a degree for this job. She didn’t spend her weekends in a library cramming for tests, she didn’t stay up till 3 a.m. writing essays and she didn’t spend thousands of dollars each year to earn a degree all in the name of sewing.

I love learning and being in school. Cardinal Points, DoNorth and All Points North are my home.
I’d be bored out of my skull if I wasn’t the journalism student I am right now.

But with all the money my parents pay for my education and some criminal making more money than the teachers I look up to, how am I supposed to be thrilled about earning my degree?

My professors are among my heroes, and it just doesn’t feel that great that a seamstress felon made more money than they do.

Our professors are creating the future leaders of this world while Mitchell is showing convicts how to sew, and she’s the one making bank.

In our society, it’s almost seen as mandatory for people to go to college. My parents thought I was crazy for wanting to take a year off and go work on a farm. Even though school is one of the happiest parts of my life, I’m curious as to how much weight my degrees will actually pull when I graduate.

When you get into the field of journalism like I am, you can’t expect to be rich beyond your wildest dreams. It really is a profession for the love of the job, not the money.

The National Association of Colleges and Employees, an organization that documents the employment of the college-educated, says the average salary for graduates in 2014 was $48,707.

I’m a triple major in newspaper, magazine and multimedia journalism. I have great organizational skills, good flow in my writing and I’m pretty tech-savvy when it comes to computers.

Does any of this matter, or will I be just another resume in a never ending pile of
college graduates?

Vermont senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders proposes the U.S. government makes college education free for citizens by increasing taxes and removing any personal investments toward tuition.

If my college was free, I probably wouldn’t feel as crappy about making less than a prison seamstress.

If I had it my way, I would never stop being a student. I have no clue as to what I want to do with my future, but right now I love the work that I do.
I just hope that when my time comes to enter the job market, my college education will actually factor into my salary.

I love journalism, but I’d probably love it a whole lot more if I got a decent paycheck at the end of each week.

Email Griffin Kelly at

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