Man becomes the ‘highest honour graduate’ at 62.
The College of Liberal Art at the University said his achievements have helped break stereotypes.
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- Last Updated: February 18, 2021, 15:00 IST
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If you’re looking for your daily dose of positivity, this is it. Like an inspiring movie, this man’s journey from being a helpless addict to a successful graduate and becoming someone who stands on his own feet will move everyone. At the age of 62, Joseph Valadez has graduated from the California State University of Long Beach with a degree in Sociology. The college shared his incredible journey on micro-blogging site, re-tweeting his own Facebook post. While rags to riches stories are amazing, this addiction to sobriety journey is simply incredible.
The Fountain Valley, California resident has spent most of his adult life behind bars as a result of his addiction. By sharing his journey on social media, he wanted to break a “misconception about guys like me (him).” He finished his last two semesters with “President’s Honour List” which is a title given to exemplary students for getting all A’s. With a 3.67 GPA, he also made it to the Dean’s List honour.
The College of Liberal Art at the University said his achievements have helped break stereotypes. They added his journey “brings awareness of stigma and misconceptions attached to those who have been formerly incarcerated.”
Valadez joined Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center of Anaheim when “no one wanted him.” At the time, he was 6 days sober. Now, he is 2,800 days sober. “All I wanted was to stop putting needles in my arms. I had been running and gunning for 43 years, 38 years as a heroin addict,” he said adding that the Salvation Army saved his life.
Various people on Twitter found his journey inspiring.
I was 25 thinking I was too old to go back to college smdh, I told ppl “I’m gon be the oldest one there” wtf was wrong with me— Maybe: Free Food (@RicoAntonio9) February 16, 2021
On some real, it’s never too late to go back to school. And you do not need to go at a certain time in your life. So take your time, once you feel ready, hit the books. You wont be judged and shouldn’t be. There’s nothing wrong with growing and you should always be proud of it.— Christ. J.C (@ChristJC2) February 16, 2021
One thing that is more beautiful than the degree is he did it in his truth. Don’t change sir! Break down those stereotypes and make the world recognize your heritage and upbringing. No more feeling we have to “fit” in by looking or changing who we are.— Tashaalbritton (@Tashaalbritton3) February 16, 2021
Good luck Joe! He always had energy in our 8am class while I was in and out of sleep — Not Alejandro Martin (@Alejandrooom16) February 16, 2021
He told ABC 7 his only wish is if his mother could have seen him today. She only saw the messed-up version of him, the one who did drugs, was involved in gang violence and went to prison and became homeless later.Due to his tragic past, Valadez chose Sociology as his major. Now he wants to start his Master’s degree at the same college and his waiting for affirmation.
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