WSD - Windham School District

Former inmate beats the odds, gets degree

Reported by: Nina DeSarro

Leo Pereida "But yeah, it was really hard, having to go to work i worked part time and then I also had to study, it's really hard," said Leo Pereida.

For many of us, it's a typical story. We finish high school, we enroll in a university and then we graduate in about four years.

But for 50 year old Leo Pereida, the timeline was a little different.

"To be honest I never thought this day would come. All I knew was that he was incarcerated for a long time, never got to talk to him, every now and then and finally he's here at this time and it's pretty awesome," said Anthony Pereida, Leo's son.

Leo dropped out of high school at 16. A couple of years later he was hooked on drugs. At 33, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison for aggravated robbery.

"Long road but we made it," said Leo.

Pereida's son, Anthony said he didn't have much of a relationship with his father while he was incarcerated, but now, as his father graduates from Texas Tech with a bachelor's from the College of Human Sciences, he couldn't be prouder.

Pereida said while he was behind bars, he felt a driving force. He needed to change.

"I'm doing this for one big reason, to glorify God, he did all of this for me. I put my effort into it but he walked me through it, through it all," said Pereida.

He now wants to give back and help those struggling with addiction.

"I say, strive for honor you can make it just believe in yourself, I made it," said Pereida.


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