David Norman, a 67-year-old former Harlem drug dealer, sat at the front of the Columbia University commencement ceremony last week with tears of joy, ready to receive a bachelor’s degree in philosophy.

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After a 35-year-long battle with substance abuse starting when he was 11, dropping out of high school after only a day, two prison stints and innumerable arrests, the newspaper reports, Norman was able to turn his dreams into reality.

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