From homeless to college graduate

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CEDAR CITY (News4Utah) – From homeless to graduating in biology and nutrition, one man says Southern Utah University gave him a second chance.

“So you just start thinking to yourself maybe you’re better off on the sidewalk somewhere, you know?” said Donald Long, a Southern Utah University Senior.

It wasn’t long ago that Long did just that – slept on the sidewalks of L.A. He’d lost his job after he was stabbed multiple times in the back – just inches from his spine and was hospitalized. 

“I came out of the hospital, I had nowhere to go,” said Long.

A New Jersey native, both Don’s parents had dropped out of school around the 8th grade, but a friend suggested Long make a move.

“Once I got back into a shelter I met a friend and she was like: ‘Hey, I am going to go back to Utah, and you’re more than welcome, you know,’ ” said Long. 

Long found himself in Cedar City and after getting a job at a local gym, Don realized he loved helping people and applied to SUU.

His professors say he’s become a star student and researcher.

“Ranked in the 99th percentile in the nation on his organic chemistry exit exam,” said his chemistry professor, Jory Redd. 

Long wants to be a doctor, and is already studying for the Medical College Admission Test.

He has a message for kids who aren’t sure college is in their future.

“A lot of times we live in a little bubble and all we see is in our little bubble … Trust me this world is humongous. There is so many things out there and I guarantee you you’ll find several things that will interest you eventually, I’d just say keep learning, keep exploring your options, and read, read, read,” said Long. 

 Beyond his double major, Don is minoring in chemistry. Graduation is on May 4th, and on the 24th Long will be taking the MCAT.  He hopes to study internal medicine.

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