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Drug Dealer Turned University Graduate Inspires

“It’s always possible to pursue your dreams.”

The encouraging words came from former drug dealer-turned-Columbia University graduate, David Norman.

At 67, the Harlem-bred hustler was the oldest undergrad in class. The age gap didn’t phase him though.

In an interview with the New York Daily News, Norman stated, “I had a rapport with the young people because they always amazed me.”

Norman’s extensive rap sheet includes drug trafficking, robbery and a 35-year drinking addiction that led to a stint with heroin use. While incarcerated, the lights dimmed on his past activities and his interests transformed into a love for books, learning Hebrew and running a program that taught life skills to fellow inmates who would soon be making their return to society.

Now that he’s clean and focused, Norman is on a clearer high centered on education, which awarded him a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the prestigious Columbia University.

Next up on Norman’s to-do list is his work as an outreach employee at Mount Vernon hospital. In this role, he will offer substance abusers access services designed to help them overcome addiction.

*Photo: New York Daily News