WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — The Forsyth County Government Center hosted a different kind of graduation ceremony Thursday.
Two graduates wore capes instead of a cap and gown.
Ernest Thames and Henry Davis are both celebrating the completion of the Stepping Up Process to End Recidivism, or S.U.P.E.R. Program. Those who graduate are called "superheroes".
Both men earned an education in life after prison due to S.U.P.E.R.
"I've been to prison several times and I got out, I didn't have anything to go to. Then they provided this right here for me," Thames said.
"It is finally my day and I've made it this far in completing this program," Davis said.
The program is meant for people with mental illness or addiction and aims to keep them out of jail.
Thames found out about it from another program graduate, a man he said once was his dealer.
"He said I got something you might need. I'm in a program called the Stepping Up program and they'll help you with a lot of things. All you have to do is come to the meetings," Thames said.
S.U.P.E.R. helps with everything from counseling to helping people find jobs and homes.
Those in the program must attend monthly support groups, check-in with S.U.P.E.R. staff weekly, stay sober and stay out of jail.
Thames and Davis hope to show others a bright future is possible.
"It feels good to have a bank account and go to work every day," Thames said. "To have a family that looks up to me, like all my family now looks up to me now. They're proud of me."
Davis said his next step will be to find a job. Thames is looking for a home and said his dream is to open his own food truck one day.