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The Greyhound

Former prisoner turned author and entrepreneur speaks to Loyola students

Chris Wilson, author of the 2021-2022 common text “The Master Plan,” grew up in a community where poverty, gun violence, and drug addiction were prominent. He was charged with a crime and sentenced to natural life in prison at the age of 17. Since his release from prison, Wilson has become an author, artist, mentor, and entrepreneur. Wilson shared his story with Loyola students this month in McGuire Hall.

Because this was a Messina event, the audience consisted of mainly first-years and faculty. The event was also held on Zoom for those who were unable to attend in-person. The keynote event was conducted in a Q & A format, led by sociology professor Dr. Shoenberger, who shared the stage with Wilson.

Wilson explained that many years ago, he sat in a dark cell and wrote up a plan to build a business empire and help others.

“I want to show that my life is redeemable, and I want to pay it forward by either preventing people from going to prison, or helping people transition back into society. I was a juvenile; I made a stupid decision, and I should pay for it. But don’t throw me away, for the rest of my life,” he said.

Throughout the hour-long event, Wilson talked about how he used his 16 years in prison as a motivator to develop a plan to improve his character, turn his life around, and help others who are dealt a “bad hand.” This plan, which is also the title of his book, is called “The Master Plan.”

During the discussion, Wilson said while sometimes he felt like he was wasting his life away in jail, he also believed that if he had a second chance, he could do something good in the world. He discussed how the prison system should be more than an institution for enforcing accountability, especially for juveniles. He also said prisons should consider helping prisoners confront issues that were not addressed during their childhood.

As students came up to the microphone to ask the author questions, Wilson provided insightful answers. One student teared up, as she shared that her father was being released from prison in 2023. Wilson provided advice on how he can transition back into society and encouraged the student’s father to reach out to him once he is released.

Andrea Hoffman, assistant director of Student-Athlete Support Services, was one of the faculty members who attended the keynote discussion. Hoffman said:

“I was so touched by how positive Wilson was on everything, after all he has been through. I also thought that the follow up questions that the students asked were really good, especially the one student who was vulnerable and shared how her father was incarcerated.”

Sophia Moore ‘25 shared how Wilson inspired her to further educate herself on the crimes that occur in Baltimore City. Moore said:

“Wilson really opened my eyes in terms of how, as college students, we need to be educated on the challenges we face in this world, and I think this conversation was a step in the right direction.”

At the end of the discussion, the audience gave Wilson a standing ovation. Students were excited to get their “Master Plan” copy autographed by Wilson himself at the conclusion of the event.

Wilson now lives in Baltimore City and is the owner of the Barclay Investment Corporation, a multi-service social enterprise that works with service providers and local workforce to connect unemployed residents with clients who are in need of services.

“Every day I get up and I ask myself, what is my end game?” Wilson said. “How many more people can I help?”

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Former prisoner turned author and entrepreneur speaks to Loyola students