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He survived an 'extremely abusive' childhood. Now he's graduating with honors and Ivy League bound

'I realized very early on that life wasn’t fair and that you have to create your own opportunities'
Kyle Jacobs
Posted at 7:43 PM, May 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-16 11:37:46-04

ETTRICK, Va. -- When Kyle Jacobs walks across the stage to be handed his diploma on Saturday, his journey is unlike most of the other Virginia State University (VSU) graduates.

The 26-year-old's "extremely long journey" is a story of perseverance, determination and of finding help along the way.

But the Honors College student's accomplishment were even more daunting considering what he overcame.

Kyle Jacobs
Kyle Jacobs

“Both of my parents were extremely abusive," he told CBS 6 Senior Reporter Wayne Covil in an interview Friday.

As a result, he spent time in foster care and at one point was homeless.

“I ended up in an abandoned house for a while," Jacobs remembered.

He also spent time in the juvenile court system. While there he credited faith for his survival.

“Only way I was able to overcome that was praying," Jacobs said.

Kyle Jacobs
Kyle Jacobs

But in 2016, Jacobs found his way to VSU. While he left after the first year, he said he quickly learned how tough the job market was for someone without a degree.

“So I realized very early on that life wasn’t fair and that you have to create your own opportunities for yourself," he said.

So when he got a second chance to come back to VSU a few years ago, Jacobs jumped at the opportunity.

“I came back to VSU because of how much a loving environment it was," he said.

With good grades, Jacobs became part of the Honors College and found a sense of family.

“When I was going through really, really hard situations in life, they kind of stepped outside the classroom and gave me the mentorship and guidance I needed," he said. "So I felt like I was part of a family."

VSU Honors College Founding Dean Dr. Dan Roberts
VSU Honors College Founding Dean Dr. Dan Roberts

While the degree is something to celebrate, VSU Honors College Founding Dean Dr. Dan Roberts said that Jacobs received "so much more out" from VSU "than his course work."

“Kyle learned to debate and to engage with others in productive conversations, and to think more critically about questions and issues that he was grappling with," Roberts said.

And based on Jacobs' s past experiences, he has already set a new goal of giving back.

“Kyle, at his young age, is very committed to helping others and that’s extraordinary," Roberts said.

In fact, Jacobs already mentors students to help "guide them along the way."

And while many leave college are searching for the mighty dollar, Jacobs believes he has found his calling.

 “If I can dedicate my life to global and human development, I think I’m going to be happy," he said.

When Jacobs walks across the stage Saturday to graduate from Virginia State University, it won’t be the end of his education.  

In August he will leave for Columbia University on a full scholarship to pursue a master's degree in Sustainability Management.

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