Columbia grad David Norman, 67, on overcoming past

David Norman, the oldest graduating student from the Columbia University Class of 2016, overcame drug addiction and incarceration.

- Harlem native David Norman graduated from Columbia University with a Bachelor of Philosophy. At 67 years old, he was the oldest in his class of 547 students.

A former drug addict and dealer, Norman took an unconventional path to an Ivy League degree.

"I wouldn't suggest anyone else take it. I am a formerly incarcerated individual. In the late 60s I got involved doing drugs and selling drugs," said Norman.

Sober now for 21 years, he remembers taking breaks from drug dealing on the quiet Columbia campus in upper Manhattan.

While he never dreamed he'd attend the prestigious intitution, Norman was offered a part-time job by a professor that eventually became a full-time position. Norman applied to the school, was accepted and received free tuition.

"The students are very competitive unlike I was at their age. I taught myself all those years in jail. I read philosophy. I read psychology. That helped me get a foundation in education so I was prepared when I got a chance to go back to school," said Norman.

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