A former Harlem drug dealer just received his bachelor’s degree from New York City’s Columbia University. David Norman now holds a degree in philosophy and cried tears of joy as he reflected on the hardships he endured to get there.

“It was a great feeling,” Norman told the New York Daily News. “I’m just now starting to come down from my little high. I had to wash my clothes yesterday. That brought me back down.”

Norman’s troubled past started at the age of 11, when he began drinking. He tried heroin for the first time at just 15. Since then, he’s been in and out of jail. His first stint occurred in 1967, and he most recently served six years after being charged with manslaughter.

“I had a 35-year run with addiction,” he said.

During his six-year bid, he found solace in reading, learned Hebrew, and even started a program to teach inmates life skills.

“I had a moment of clarity in which I was able to recognize everything I had done at that point was fairly counter-productive and I needed to engage in some new activities and some new behaviors,” Norman said.

After prison, he got a job helping substance abusers at Mount Vernon Hospital, which eventually led to a career at Columbia that put him on track to earn his degree.

Now, as a research assistant at Columbia’s Mailman School Of Public Health, Norman wants to write a book about his life titled, You Don’t Have to Wait as Long as I Did.

SOURCE: NY Daily News | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty, Twitter

Former Harlem Drug Dealer Graduates From Columbia University  was originally published on

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