preLaw - Winter 2011 - 12
DESMOND MEADE, a first-year at Florida International University College of Law, said he is a living example that criminals and addicts can be rehabilitated.
A life turned around
Five years ago, Desmond Meade was a drug addict living on the streets of Miami. Today, he is a first-year law student with big plans to give back to society.
BY JACK CRITTENDEN
n a hot, sweltering day in August 2005, Desmond Meade found himself staring at a railroad track in Miami. He was tempted to fling himself in front of the next train, in hopes of ending a life riddled with drugs, crime and homelessness. The day before, he had borrowed money to get to a church, where he asked the pastor to pray for him. But the pastor had instead told him to set up an appointment for another day. “When the church turns you down, how much lower can you go?” Meade asked. “I crossed over the tracks and my thought was, ‘How many people would have come to my funeral?’ I only came up with four people, and maybe only two of them would have cried.” 12
It was an epiphanic moment for Meade. At that point, he had met a lot of people in his 37 years. But he had made a positive impact on very few. He pulled himself together and entered a rehab program. It wasn’t his first time in the program, but he was determined it would be his last. After rehab, he began living and working at a non-profit organization that helps homeless get back on their feet. He was sweeping floors, taking out the trash and helping others. “After I helped the first person, I realized that I may have just tapped into our true essence as human beings,” Meade said. “Once you give up yourself expecting nothing in return, it is almost addictive, because it brings you such joy.” Meade, who is now a first-year law stu-
dent at Florida International University in Miami, found joy in service and made a commitment to educate himself so he could give back to others.
A new life
A year after turning around his life, Meade entered Miami Dade College to pursue a paralegal degree. His interest in law had been piqued while he was in jail five years before that. He had been convicted for possession of a firearm by a felon. A jury had found him guilty, but he got the conviction overturned due to voire dire issues. “No one was working on my case, and I had to do it myself,” he said. “That is when I got the bug. I started working with the