Former Homeless Addict Who Couldn't Read Half His Life, Graduates College at 65

Brittany Chalmers
Nov 19, 2021
06:40 A.M.

A man who dropped out of school in the third grade so that he could steal food for his starving family managed to turn his life around. Once homeless, he is now a proud college graduate.


When someone asked Freddie Sherrill what he could do, he answered honestly. He shared that he only knew how to cheat, steal and spend time in jail. However, when someone took a chance on him, his life was turned around.

The homeless man's story of struggling to survive was shared in 2018. It detailed how Sherrill was in and out of jail and even willingly got himself incarcerated so that he could be warm and get some food.

A formerly homeless man managed to obtain his bachelors degree despite all of the odds against him | Photo: Instagram/queensuniv

A formerly homeless man managed to obtain his bachelors degree despite all of the odds against him | Photo: Instagram/queensuniv


When a judge released Sherrill because he didn't think he belonged in jail, he was devastated. He had nowhere to go and tried to end his life. When the attempt failed, he did the only thing he could think of. He prayed.


Sherrill's life started to change when he got sober and joined a halfway house. The man was on a long journey to a better future and even got married and had kids. It was not easy, and there were many challenges, but he was determined.


Sherrill failed his G.E.D five times before he passed. Giving up was not an option, and he also decided to obtain an associate's degree in human services. The focus of the degree was close to his heart—substance abuse counseling.


He was encouraged to pursue a degree in 2009 after his son looked at different colleges. While he failed a few classes, needed a semester off, and took some time to obtain the degree, Sherrill's perseverance shone through.



A pastor named Steve Eason played a pivotal role in helping Sherrill reclaim his life. He took a chance on the man, showed him love, and even offered him a job at the First Presbyterian in Morganton, North Carolina.

Eason, who is younger than Sherrill, became like a father to him. The pastor had only kind things to say about his new friend. He shared that Sherrill never judges people because he has been on the other side and chooses to see the best in them.


For Sherrill, the journey was made possible because of one simple principle. He refused to quit and said the story of his life was not giving up no matter what. The commendable man walked across the stage to get his degree at 65 years old.

His walk was met with a standing ovation, and his story continues to inspire others. Sherrill is an example that no matter the circumstances, formerly homeless or struggling with addiction—anything is possible if you persevere!

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