(UPI) -- After prison Walter Fortson went to Rutgers University using a program for ex-offenders -- and now has been selected as a 2012 Truman Scholar.
Fortson was arrested in May 2007 for possession of crack cocaine, marijuana and two handguns. A student at Temple University at the time with a 3.5 grade point average, Fortson turned to selling drugs to make money, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
"I looked at it like a business; I didn't see it as something wrong. If I didn't do it, someone else would," he told the Inquirer. "I learned the ropes of crack cocaine -- what it is, where it comes from, how to take powdered cocaine and cook it. I never used it though."
After serving the minimum 25 1/2 months of his six year sentence, Fortson interviewed in 2009 for a program at Rutgers to help ex-offenders go to college. He was accepted into a program for exercise physiology, and went on to excel, winning the school's academic excellence award.
Last month, Forston, 27, became one of the 54 students chosen from schools across the country to win the Truman Scholar prize, named for President Harry Truman. The $30,000 scholarship, to be used towards graduate study, is given to top students pursuing careers in government or public service. Fortson plans to focus his graduate studies in nutrition on the prison population.
"Prison is hard to describe; it's not what people see on TV," he said. "I'm grateful I won and eager to see what I can do to make a difference."
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