Everlasting determination to gain everlasting education Henry M. Ford graduates from FAMU at age 59 By Elizabeth Santoro Special to Active Living
With deadlines, schedules, and daily demands, sometimes our goals or plans can be put on hold indefinitely. Sometimes to the point that we think it is too late in life or too difficult to come back, letting it become one of those things we never “get around to.” Harry M. Fordham III determined that his education would not be one of those things. Faced with hardships and selfdiscoveries, Fordham recently graduated from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University with a Bachelor’s Degree in building construction. On August 3, at age 59, he walked proudly. It wasn’t an altogether easy road to the mortarboard. With his draft number coming up, his choices included college or the army, neither of which appealed to him at the time so after high school and during the Vietnam War, Fordham enlisted in the US Air Force. After his military service, he decided to go back to school and enrolled in a junior college in Ocala. There, he received his Associate’s Degree in building construction. The young Fordham transferred to FAMU, where he remained for only a year before taking a job as a radiation technician. A cocaine addiction, arrest for drug possession in 2007 and his incarceration for 11 months, 29 days, and the deaths of both parents (within a two-week span) put Fordham’s education on hold. Fordham took this time as a turning point-
Harry M. Fordham – a proud grad at 59.
ing his life and began to pray and reflect. He commented, “One thing about jail is it gives you all the time to think.” Finding a way to cope and overcome the grief, Fordham took up drawing as a hobby. “Drawing was therapeutic for me,” he said. “I drew every day in prison.” He continues to draw and has won many awards from the North Florida Fair. 2007 was his lowest point, yet he knew he could turn things around. After release from jail, he refocused on completing his education. “I was brought up in a family that believes in education,” he commented. With his family’s support, and that of past professors and friends, Fordham attended Tallahassee Community College in 2009 and transferred to FAMU in 2011, graduating just two months ago. With degree in-hand, the young 59-year-old plans to apply for professional licensure as a general contractor. “You are never too old to learn,” Fordham says, and that’s an idea that applies to any ambition in life.
A drawing by Harry M. Fordham.
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