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Homeless Orlando man graduates after 10 years

Man graduated from University of Central Florida

Santos Maldonado with Major Randy Mingo from UCF police.
Santos Maldonado with Major Randy Mingo from UCF police. (WKMG/Tee Taylor)

ORLANDO, Fla. – A man living on the streets, managed to graduate from the University of Central Florida.

On May 9 thousands graduated from UCF, but for one man, Santos Maldonado, 61, it was more that a graduation, it was the beginning of a new way of life.

Maldonado came to Florida from New York City in 2001 without any support from family or friends and found finding a job difficult. He was forced to live on the streets of Central Florida for two years. Depressed and with no confidence in himself, he decided that an education could create a brighter future for himself.

He found odd jobs and managed to save enough money to start taking classes at Valencia College leading him on to UCF. The road Maldonado was on was hard, he was a student for over ten years, and prior to having transitional housing, lived from shelter to shelter.

When you speak to Maldonado he is filled with gratitude, "If you told me ten years ago that I would be walking across a stage, wearing an academic gown, and moving my tassel to the left, I would have thought that you were teasing me. This is an incredible moment for me, and it is the beginning of something big," Maldonado says.

When asked about his future plans, Maldonado said, "I plan to never stop learning; the day you stop learning is the day that you're dead. I also hope to support my community, and help other to accomplish their dreams."