Before you toss your cap in the air, make sure you've learned these life lessons from the pros.

A New York man who served 16 years in prison for a crime he did not commit graduated on Tuesday with a master's degree from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Jeffrey Deskovic was 17 when he was convicted of the 1989 rape and murder of a 15-year-old classmate at Peekskill High School, even though his DNA didn’t match the evidence. The Innocence Project took on his case and he was exonerated in 2006.

Deskovic took the $8.3 million he won from the state and Westchester County and used it to start the Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation for Justice, which fights to overturn wrongful convictions.


Graduating on Tuesday at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Hell's Kitchen, Deskovic told NBC New York that trying to make a difference in the criminal justice system was his way of coming to terms with what happened to him.

"I've come so far, between there and now, and the emotions kind of got the better of me," he said.

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