Ahmad Ali Lewis had earned his first gold record before most of us had even started college. Recording under the name AHMAD, his hit “Back in the Day” reached No. 26 on the US pop charts and No. 19 on the U.S. R&B charts and earned him the opportunity to tour with the likes of Stevie Wonder, The Black Eyed Peas and Sheryl Crow.
Unfortunately, this early success was followed by struggles and a realization that, in his opinion, the music industry was invested in promoting a version of the African American community he did not agree with. Lewis was ready for a change.
But how does a 30-year-old with no college degree find a new career? Community college, of course. Long Beach City College to be exact.
Instead of singing notes, Lewis started takingnotes. Two years later, he was valedictorian of his class and off to Stanford, where he would earn a BA in Sociology. An MA in Social Work from USC came next.
Today, in addition to recording the occasional new song, Lewis works with children, youth, and families as a clinical social worker.
As it does for so many people, community college provided Lewis a way to move from what was, to what could be. This is why he’s a great example of what it means to be a community college grad. He’s a real person whose community college degree helped him make a real difference.
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