65-year-old student ‘welcomes’ himself back to education

Julio Rodriguez
Creative Editor

Age isn't stopping Welcome from reaching his goal of assisting those who struggle with substance abuse. Photo by: Michael Schaefer

Age isn’t stopping Welcome from reaching his goal of assisting those who struggle with substance abuse.

65-year-old chemical dependency student William Welcome returned to school to earn his GED and gain the qualifications to help those struggling with substance abuse.

“I never completed high school, but after I realized what my goals are, I decided to return to school at 65,” said Welcome.

Welcome’s return to education began with a desire to pursue his life’s aspirations.

“When I used to see job listings, I was denied even though I knew the job. That was all because I didn’t have a GED,” he said.

“Now it is time to get all of my credentials together. I’m trying and I’m feeling good,” said Welcome.

Williams took an interest in studying substance abuse after growing up in Albany. Welcome recalls conversations with friends who struggled to deal with life after incarceration. After Hudson Valley, Welcome aims to help newly released inmates struggling with substance abuse.

“[I want to] help people learn to survive once they come out of incarceration,” said Welcome.

“There are a lot of people who don’t give themselves a chance to survive. They’re out and then they’re back in. I have a lot of friends that have experienced that because they don’t give themselves a chance,” he said.

Welcome believes that sometimes people feel more important behind bars than they do in public.

“They say they feel more ‘important’ inside than they do outside because no one on the outside is listening to them. They can’t take it because they’re used to people looking up to them. I feel I can help them stand free,” he said.

Welcome would like to receive a bachelor’s degree in order to assist addicts that are suffering from addiction.

“Addiction goes a long way; It isn’t just about drugs,” said Welcome.

Additionally, Welcome returned to school to set an example for his great-great grandchildren.

“I feel good because I take [one of my grandchildren] to school every morning and I tell him, ‘I gotta go to school too.’ That makes me feel good and it motivates me,” said Welcome.

Welcome recently received his GED from Bryant and Stratton College. Initially, Welcome attended Schenectady County Community College to receive a degree in chemical dependency, but the campus’ atmosphere turned him off from continuing his education there.

“Once I got my GED I went to a few different schools. Hudson Valley’s reception is very pleasant and a red flag went up for the other two schools,” he said.

“When I came to Hudson Valley, I got such a warm welcome. I felt comfortable and I immediately started right there,” he said.

Welcome’s returned to school forced him to confront new and unfamiliar pressures, but having acclimated, his outlook has changed and he’s motivated to finish strong.

“When I first started, I had to face a lot of stigma. People saying, ‘You’re too old.’ It was sinking in for a long time until I realized you’re never too old to learn. So, I decided to go to school and get all of my papers before I pass,” said Welcome.

Welcome faced new hardships in the form of college level academics. Welcome has been utilizing the resources available to students at the Marvin Library’s Writing Lab.

“I’m doing a research paper and I get so involved in my work that I lose track of time when I’m in the library. I spend a lot of time in the writing lab because I’m new at this. I’m learning and I forget about time. It’s like I’m the only one there and I don’t look at the time,” said Welcome.

Welcome is a living testament to the phrase, “you’re never too old to learn.”

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