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From homeless to Ivy League: VSU graduate headed to Columbia

A young man who overcame homelessness, foster care, abuse, and even the juvenile system will soon be an Ivy League student.
Published: May. 19, 2022 at 2:00 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - A young man who overcame homelessness, foster care, abuse, and even the juvenile system will soon be an Ivy League student.

Richmond native and former Armstrong High School student Kyle Jacobs graduated recently from Virginia State University and is headed to Columbia University on a full scholarship.

For Jacobs, those were the easy parts of his journey. He’s had numerous obstacles thrown his way and he’s still landing at the very top.

”My mom was physically abusive and mentally abusive,” he shared. “My dad was more physically abusive. And you know when I was living with him, he sort of beat me to a point that I went to school and they immediately called Social Services.”

Next was foster care, and not long after that, juvenile detention.

“I stayed in my room 23 hours of the day, only came out for one,” Jacobs said. “Hated every second of it. But, the good thing that I did do, was read.”

He read “Twilight,”“Harry Potter” and James Patterson books.

Jacobs got into college at VCU, but then struggled to pay rent.

“I ended up living in my car for a while,” he said, and then lived in an abandoned house for a year and a half.

He says he managed to get an internship, then faced racism issues.

He decided that this couldn’t be his story.

Kyle Jacobs studied agriculture at VSU; he’ll study sustainability at Columbia.
Kyle Jacobs studied agriculture at VSU; he’ll study sustainability at Columbia.(Virginia State University)

“I sat down and kind of wondered why all these things were happening to me,” said Jacobs. “I figured out early that life wasn’t fair and that and it’s up to us to shape our lives to be what we want it to be.”

Jacobs went to VSU, built his village of support, and worked toward an incredible future.

“I knew that I had to go back and finish my degree,” he said.

Jacobs studied agriculture at VSU; he’ll study sustainability at Columbia.

“I just feel like all my hard work paid off and all the time that people invested into me paid off as well,” said Jacobs. “I might start working with a social impact fund to solve the world’s problems.”

Jacobs urges others going through tough times to speak up and get help.

“We go through trauma, but we do not expressly talk about it,” he said. “And it kind of gets swept under the rug. And we never deal with it. And that’s why we have a lot of emotional and mental issues so I encourage anybody that’s going through this for people to speak up and stand up against abuse but also get the therapy that you need.”

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