Cain is part of a growing trend of nontraditional students in West Virginia. Enrollment of students in the state over the age of 25 has increased by more than 12 percent since 2008, according to the Higher Education Policy Commission.
Last year, more than 23,000 of West Virginia's students were 25 and older. Adult learners make up more than half of enrollment in the state's two-year colleges and nearly 20 percent of four-year institutions.
But in Cain's case, he wasn't doing it for himself. His youngest daughter, Meredith, will graduate with honors from South Charleston High School this year, and as he took her to visit prospective universities, he realized he needed to heed his own advice.
"I've just been truly blessed by her. She's very intelligent, and I knew that for me to be able to make sure that she gets the quality of education that she wanted, I needed to reeducate myself," he said. "It was a combination of things that made me want to go back."
Cain said he worried only slightly about catching up with his younger generation classmates.
"I knew I would need to brace myself with the technology. I took a few computer classes to prepare. Even though it was difficult, I had a lot of support from my classmates and teachers," he said. "I knew in my heart this was another stepping stone so that I could help people in the future. But I found out that I was already helping people just by going to class everyday at my age wearing a chemo pump."
Cain plans to expand his Redemption House project upon graduation and provide even more people a place to live in a place "where comfortable sobriety without relapse is the norm instead of the exception."
"It's really disturbing to me when I hear so many people say, 'I wish I would've done this.' Well, what's stopping you from doing it? It's not over 'till it's over," he said.
For more information about The Redemption House, call 304-437-3104 or email cainreginal...@yahoo.com.
Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.m...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.