At the beginning of Danielle Jeffers’ senior year of high school, her parents sat her down and said, “You need to go to college, but we can’t pay for it.”

This conversation launched Jeffers into a life and a purpose that is making an impact and creating opportunities for her generation.

Jeffers began to research scholarships, organizing her options and creating a plan to get to college. But she was in Governor’s School, taking advanced courses, caring for her parents, and serving in the community. Jeffers knew that to get to college, she’d have to sacrifice, but she recognized that the investment now would pay off later.

She started to wake up at 5 a.m. every day, chipping away at essays and reference letters and resumé fine-tuning. In the beginning, her goal was a scholarship that would’ve provided for her entire education and beyond.

But she didn’t receive that scholarship.

“It was heartbreaking. It took me a week to digest and move on, but it was a game changer,” said Jeffers. “If I had received that one, I probably would’ve just stopped there. But I didn’t. And that’s what kept me going.”

In five months, Jeffers earned 20 scholarships totaling more than $100,000.

But it doesn’t stop there. She wants to pass on that tenacity and dedication, and she believes that anyone can get to college if they put in the effort.

In January 2016, Jeffers founded Dough 4 Degrees, a remote scholarship coaching company. She works with students from all over the nation as they too navigate the scholarship process. In the past year, Dough 4 Degrees has helped more than 30 students and families earn more than $60,000 collectively in scholarships. Her business has opened up countless doors, but for Danielle, she just wants to empower her peers to not be held back because of finances.

“I’m passionate about making sure students get what they need and don’t have to suffer and sacrifice a lot to get it,” Jeffers. “You shouldn’t have to graduate with debt to get a degree.”

Though her credits classify her as a first-semester senior, Jeffers is actually just a sophomore, and she has no plans to graduate early.

With the money she has earned, Jeffers will experience all the opportunities possible, as she pursues a communication degree focusing in multimedia journalism. She’s an honors student double minoring in entrepreneurship and cinema, with a cognate in diversity and community engagement. And that’s just inside the classroom.

A member of the Innovate living-learning community and countless other organizations on campus, Jeffers said that the highlight of her college experience has been connecting with other Hokies.

When asked what advice she’d give to other students, Jeffers said, “Just do it. Don’t spend too much time questioning or trying to figure it all out. Always have a plan and put forth the effort, but if you mess up, bounce back, and surround yourself with good people who will pick you back up.”

In February, Jeffers was honored with a Division of Student Affairs Aspire! Award.

The Division of Student Affairs’ Aspirations for Student Learning represent the pinnacle of Virginia Tech’s aspirations for students and our community. They are:

  • Commit to unwavering CURIOSITY ― Virginia Tech students will be inspired to lead lives of curiosity, embracing a life-long commitment to intellectual development.
  • Pursue SELF-UNDERSTANDING and INTEGRITY ― Virginia Tech students will form a set of affirmative values and develop the self-understanding to integrate these values into their decision-making.
  • Practice CIVILITY ― Virginia Tech students will understand and commit to civility as a way of life in their interactions with others.
  • Prepare for a life of COURAGEOUS LEADERSHIP ― Virginia Tech students will be courageous leaders who serve as change agents and make the world more humane and just.
  • Embrace UT PROSIM as a way of life ― Virginia Tech students will enrich their lives through service to others.

The Division of Student Affairs celebrates the Aspirations for Student Learning through Aspire! Award presentations five times each academic year. At each celebration, a different Aspiration is explored, extraordinary students and employees are recognized, and the audience is challenged to seek knowledge in everyday experiences.

Written by Holly Paulette

Share this story