Man who was homeless for 20 years now in doctoral program

Published: Sep. 25, 2022 at 12:58 PM EDT
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WRAL) – A North Carolina man is celebrating after beating drug addiction and homelessness to earn three college degrees.

Michael Watkins is now working on his fourth degree.

He has been accepted into a doctoral degree program, where he is studying healthcare administration.

Watkins said he was a drug addict who lived on the streets and in shelters in Raleigh for 20 years.

“I had a 15 year crack habit,” he said. “I got clean and, once I started that, it was full steam ahead.”

Thanks to people who believed in him, Watkins got clean and went back to school in 2015.

Since then, he has earned his associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Watkins said he still struggles to find work because of his past mistakes.

“No one wants to forgive me for the criminal acts I committed 34 years ago,” Watkins said. “That was 34 years ago. Can’t we move on beyond that. Why must I still be punished for the rest of my life?”