A former Big Issue seller has said he is “still getting used to the idea” he has fulfilled his “dream” of going to Cambridge University.
Geoff Edwards, 52, spent most of his adult life homeless in Cambridge after work as a field labourer dried up.
He said selling copies of The Big Issue “gave me back a bit of self-respect”.
After gaining distinctions in an Access to Higher Education course at Cambridge Regional College, he is now studying English Literature at Hughes Hall.
As first reported in the Cambridge News, Mr Edwards, who left school with two O-levels, said: “Going to Cambridge University was a dream of mine.
“This is what I have always wanted to do, but no-one in my family had been to university, so I didn’t consider it.”
He came to Cambridge from Liverpool in search of work as a farm hand but after years of being homeless “was isolated and getting anxious”.
His life was turned around when he became a Big Issue seller in the city.
However, Mr Edwards realised he was “in a rut” and after deciding a return to education was the way forward he attended an open day at Cambridge Regional College.
“I only had Maths and English O-levels, so I needed to do a [pre-access] gateway course” he said.
“It prepared me well for the access course, which gave me the qualifications to get to Cambridge.”
He said winning a place is “the first thing I am proud of in my life”.
The access course is aimed at adults who want to return to education or need extra qualifications to go to university.
Hughes Hall only accepts mature undergraduates or graduate students.
Its president Anthony Freeling said it is “committed to ensuring the gates of Cambridge University are open to all with the potential to succeed”.