(CBS) — 800 people are celebrating graduation from Roosevelt University Saturday, and for one man, it is an achievement that is decades in the making, reports WBBM’s Mike Krauser.

Rodney Wilson at 41 is not your typical college graduate. Looking back at the years of running with gangs on Chicago’s West Side and incarceration for related crimes, starting at the age of 16 and continuing off and on for two decades, there were times where he didn’t think he would see 41.

“It’s a blessing to be here after all I’ve been through,” Wilson said.

He started taking college courses offered by Roosevelt University more than twenty years ago in prison. Such programs have long since ended, but two years ago, back on the outside, he returned to Roosevelt and is now graduating with honors.

“I’m going to have a rush of so many different emotions,” Wilson. “I don’t know if I will be able to hold the tears back once I’m walking across that stage.”

Wilson wrote his senior thesis on gang involvement among youth and the result of early prevention. Today, he works with people on the streets and owns a hair salon.