AUSTIN, Texas – More than 40 years after he dropped out of the University of Texas at Austin, a homeless man is getting a second chance to earn his degree thanks to a local student.

  • Homeless man gets second chance
  • Student helps man return to school
  • Left UT 40 years ago

For six years, David Carter has been a consistent presence near the UT Austin campus. 

“He’s a pretty familiar face around the UT community. He’s out on 24th and Guadalupe almost every day,” said UT student Ryan Chandler.

Chandler spoke to Carter for the first time on Guadalupe.

“I decided to interview him one day to get his perspective on the homeless issue in Austin and that led to a series of other stories because once I heard his background it was obviously so captivating,” said Chandler.  

Chandler learned that more than 40 years ago Carter had been a student at UT studying studio art with a small scholarship. After an accident hurt his hand, Carter dropped out of college at the age of 23.

After he left school, Carter was faced with a long battle with schizophrenia, substance abuse, and homelessness. For the past six years, he has panhandled in the same spot on the Drag, but hopes for a better life. 

“What I’d like to do is spend the rest of my life just doing research and writing books,” said Carter, “But I think the books I write will be better because of the college education and coming into contact with the great minds.” 

When Chandler heard of Carter’s hopes to return to school, he made it his mission to help. 

“It’s the greatest blessing I’ve ever received,” said Carter.

“He really just needed an advocate who has worked with that system before and has connections on campus that can help him and advocate for him,” said Chandler.

Over the past six months, Chandler helped Carter re-apply, and two weeks ago, they got the news they had hoped for. Carter was re-admitted to UT.

“He did what had to be done to get me enrolled in those classes, and I couldn’t have done it without him,” said Carter.

Carter begins his two courses, U.S. History and Black Political Thought, this Thursday. 

“Everybody has a story just like him,” said Chandler. “So if we were to extend the sympathy that we show to David to everybody, then we could really end the systemic stereotypes around homelessness.”