Freddie Sherrill was unable to read for more than half of his life. According to www.walb.com, he quit school at 8, was arrested at 16 and became homeless at 27 but he beat all odds and graduated college at age 65.
He said in an interview:
(At age 8) I would go to the grocery stores and start stealing food and take it home to help my mother and feed my sister and brothers.
I was drinking, smoking and shooting cocaine and then I went to heroin. That’s when the bottom fell out.
In 1988, he tried to kill himself but the gun he was going to use didn’t go off. Talking to the Charlotte Observer. Freddie said:
I couldn’t stop crying. I said the only prayer I knew: ‘God, please help me.’ I was just tired of living. I wanted to die and couldn’t even do that.
After this, he made a conscious effort to get his life on the right track, getting married and starting a family, learning how to read with the help of volunteers at the Burke County Literacy Council and then enrolling in Western Piedmont Community College to earn his G.E.D which he passed after 6 tries.
It took Freddie 13 years to complete his associate’s degree in human services with a concentration in substance abuse counselling.
In 2009 when Sherrill’s son was getting ready to apply for college, he decided to also go back to school himself.
Finally today I can say that I’m a productive member of society. I haven’t arrived, that’s just part of the journey, and the journey continues on.
Read the full feature story on www.charlotteobserver.com