[UCLA Newsroom] After kicking addiction, graduating UCLA student reboots life

Native American student finds way back after alcoholism, homelessness
Rebecca Kendall | June 08, 2016

One night in 2010, Kevin Hale pushed a shopping cart loaded with six gallons of vodka and a couple of cases of beer to a railway bridge in Pico Rivera, California.

“I was going to go up there and drink ’til I could drink no more,” said Hale, a member of the Navajo Nation, who struggled with alcohol for two decades before finding sobriety and a path to higher education. “If you drink enough, your body will just shut down. That’s what I planned on doing.”

But his plan changed after he started to hallucinate. A vision of a friend who had died from alcohol abuse appeared and told Hale to go home to his family. If Hale were to die like this, his friend seemed to say, it would devastate his mother.Â

“He told me I shouldn’t do that to her,” said Hale, who was homeless at the time.

That was a moment of spiritual intervention that Hale will never forget. This week, Hale, 53, will graduate with a degree in sociology and celebrate his transition to a new life at the campus’s American Indian graduation celebration on Friday at 4:30 p.m. with 18 other graduates. In all, the university expects to confer more than 12,600 bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and professional degrees for the 2015-2016 academic year, including 7,800 earned this spring. In all, graduating students and guests will attend more than 50 commencement ceremonies, receptions and celebrations. UCLA’s largest commencement is for the UCLA College and takes place during two ceremonies at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Friday at Pauley Pavilion.Â

Read the full article

Posted on June 10, 2016, 12:59 PM PST