CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Nothing can keep Reggie Cain from going to class.
Not his long hours at The Redemption House, the shelter he recently opened to support recovering addicts. Not his time split between his six children and grandchildren. Not even chemotherapy treatments.
Cain, 61, will graduate from West Virginia State University in December with a bachelor's degree in health sciences. He decided to go back to school in 2009, and since then, he has earned three associate degrees specializing in behavioral health and counseling in addition to the B.S. he'll receive next month.
He was diagnosed with stomach cancer last year, but has not let it get in the way of his goals. Cain has made the Dean's List every semester.
"I've been busy," Cain said. "A lot of people tell me that they're inspired just by seeing me in class everyday. They don't understand how I do it. I give God all the glory."
Cain, of Saint Albans, had a vision to create transitional housing for local men who have struggled with drug or alcohol addiction and needed help getting back on their feet. He started furnishing houses in Rand and Dunbar, offering not only a warm place to sleep and eat -- but also transportation to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and job interviews.
He couldn't do the job wholly, though, without a degree.
"I saw people suffering. They needed help getting their lives together. I felt like it was my calling to help them, but I had to go back to school to do it right," Cain said. "It is so rewarding to watch a person who has no hope get a gleam in their eye when hope does come alive in them. It's like they get to relive life allover again. Kind of like me -- I got a second chance at life. I feel better now than I did at 35, even with the cancer."
This isn't Cain's first attempt at college. After high school, he attended Compton Junior College in California on a football scholarship. But, he quit after his first semester upon finding out his girlfriend was pregnant with his son.
"To be honest, I was a jock back in '69. I was only thinking about playing sports, and I really abused the opportunities there for me," he said. "Most people don't get a second chance, and I'm blessed to have one."