(Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)

Nick Cannon is taking a full course load at Howard University, including one class called “Inside Out: Crime and Justice Behind the Wall,” which meets every Thursday at the D.C. Correctional Treatment Facility.

The class examines criminal justice, with 14 inmates learning alongside 6 Howard students as part of the city’s reentry program.

When the professor, Bahiyyah Muhammad, asked Cannon, who is majoring in legal communications, why he wanted to take the class, he replied, “I want to hear your stories and journeys. So when I am speaking on these big platforms, I am speaking for all of us, and not just my own opinion.”

During this week’s class, Muhammad asked the inmates and the students to examine their informal and formal educations and how that shaped where they were today.

“It’s the lack of education — that’s why it’s put on the back burner,” said inmate Timothy Kelly, who said that he did not have any educated role models.

“I have best friends serving life in fed. People I grew up in the same house with serving 15 years,” Cannon said. “I could have easily been in a different situation. And as all of you know, it’s one mistake that separates me from you, or one mistake that you get caught for.”

Muhammad said that Cannon has been an excellent student, coming in during office hours to ask for extra reading materials.

“When Nick came for the first week, I was blown away,” Muhammad said. “He was kind of nervous. It was great. He really mirrored my other new or transfer students.”