Published: April 27, 2020

Documentary film 'Bags to Butterflies' nominated for a College Academy Award

Contact(s): John Castro College of Communication Arts and Sciences, Caroline Brooks Communications and Brand Strategy office: 517-432-0920

Prison may sometimes viewed as an end. Employers judge and push away recently imprisoned citizens, past convictions scar records and, without employment, some of those released from prison fall into a cycle of incarceration and poverty. Michelle Smart, a Detroit-based entrepreneur, is working to change that.

Through her company called Bags to Butterflies, Smart is giving women who have been recently released from incarceration the opportunity to lead fulfilling lives and careers — using handbags. The mission of Bags to Butterflies is to empower formerly incarcerated women with transitional employment, resources and a caring network immediately upon their return to the community from incarceration.

Kendall Westfield ‘19, an MSU journalism alumna, and her team of fellow journalism students, produced a documentary film of the same name. They wanted to tell the story of some of the women whose lives have changed with the help of Smart’s company. Now, these students from the MSU School of Journalism have been honored with a nomination for a college television academy award for "Bags to Butterflies."

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