Former Drug Dealer Graduates from Columbia 50 Years After Dropping Out of High School

David Norman is proof that you can do anything you set your mind to.

Throughout his life, the 67-year-old battled drug addiction and was in and out of prison for charges ranging from robbery to manslaughter. But more than 50 years after he dropped out of high school, Norman has graduated from Columbia University with a degree in philosophy, reports the New York Daily News.

“It’s always possible to pursue your dreams,” Norman said to the Daily News.

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It was during Norman’s second stint in prison that he decided that he wanted to turn his life around. While incarcerated, he taught a program that helped inmates prepare to reenter society, and upon his release, he found a job at a hospital helping addicts.

“I did a little inventory of myself to try to unearth what it was that led me astray in the beginning and what I need to do when I get home not to fall victim to this activity again,” he said.

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His work at Mount Vernon Hospital eventually turned into a position at Columbia, where he helped in the community health program. He began taking courses, but because he worked full-time, he couldn’t take more than seven credits per semester. That was 10 years ago.

He never gave up on his dream of obtaining his degree, and over the weekend, he joined his classmates at their graduate ceremony.

“It was a great feeling,” he said, adding that he wants to eventually pen a book chronicling his journey to turn his life around. “I’m just now starting to come down from my little high. I had to wash my clothes yesterday. That brought me back down.”