67-Year-Old Homeless Man Readmitted to Texas University After 35 Years on the Streets

June 5, 2019 Updated: June 5, 2019

A homeless college dropout is getting a second chance to earn his degree after living on the streets for the last 35 years.

The man, who has been panhandling on what’s known as “the Drag” in Austin, Texas, for the last few decades, has a UT journalism and government student to thank. Ryan Chandler was working on a school assignment when he came across David Carter—the homeless man. After getting to know him, Chandler became determined to help Carter get back on the horse and finish his degree.

Chandler tweeted out some good news last Sunday: that Carter will be readmitted at UT after much effort. Chandler had spent months obtaining Carter’s transcripts to get him readmitted with the help of the university admissions office.

“We did it! After 6 years of panhandling on the Drag, David Carter has been readmitted to UT Austin and will resume his degree this week,” Chandler wrote.

Carter had been a fine arts student at UT, having completed a full 87 hours toward his degree, Alcalde reported. He had just one more semester to go until it all came crashing down when he suffered several setbacks; Carter injured his hand in an accident involving intoxication, rendering him unable to draw. Later in life, he also developed schizophrenia, and he also has a history of addiction, KHOU 11 reported.

“He attributes the end of his collegiate career to an intoxicated accident in which he severely damaged his hand and lost his drawing ability and with it, his passion and his major,” said Chandler. “His hope for a degree was replaced with destitution, disability and dependence, a fateful combination that left Carter on the street, just as it does to so many other homeless individuals.”

The university has agreed to work with Carter to plan a path toward achieving his degree, paying for tuition, fees, etc. They also agreed to waive his application fee, which had been an obstacle previously for him getting back in.

Thanks to Texas Ex, a student alumni association, Carter will not have to pay a cent of his tuition; they’ve pledged to cover his tuition fees in full.

Carter, who had hoped to finish his degree since 1971, finally got his life back on track around six years ago with the help of a local non-profit, Caritas of Austin, who assist the homeless, and who stepped in to give him a second chance.

A recent tweet shows Carter looking like a new man, cleanshaven, with a new haircut, and a fresh, new shirt ready for a preliminary visit with a professor at UT. “Just in time for my 67th birthday,” Carter said in the tweet.

After crossing the stage at his grad ceremony, Carter hopes to do what he’s been doing for the last 30-some years: writing.

“My dream is to write a great novel. I’ve been writing for 30 years now,” Carter told Alcalde. “I want to be sure I make a contribution to posterity.”