“Just so thankful:” Man with troubled past gets second chance with college graduation

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Thursday marks a special day for a man with a once-troubled past.

Jonathan Williamson was previously convicted on two felonies, but now he’s reaping the benefits of hard work to turn his life around.

Williamson said after getting charged and facing eight years behind bars, he knew something needed to change.

“I was facing eight years,” he said. “I served four months downtown and I told myself once I get out I’m going to make something of myself.”

He decided to go back to school.

He’s now graduating with a facility maintenance engineering degree from Remington College.

Williamson said he could have received a certificate through a shorter program, but he wanted a degree.

“I’m just so thankful,” he said. “I am blessed to be standing here today. A lot of people don’t make it. A lot of people don’t get second chances. I’ve been given a third chance, fourth chance, fifth chance. God has really spared my life.”

Williamson is not only graduating, but he already has a job lined up.

He’s also getting to speak to his graduating class at the graduation, imparting words of wisdom.

“Take those felonies and throw them away, forget your background,” he said. “You can do it. You can do it.”

Williamson said his degree is an example that your past doesn’t have to determine your future.

He said he has a message for those living a life that could lead them to trouble: “Turn around. It’s not worth it. One simple mistake or five seconds can cost you your whole life.”