Graduation day will mark the end of one journey for Jaketa Linzy. “I have the world at my feet.”

But the mathematics major won’t be looking down at her feet. She has her head in the clouds. “I’m at the point now where I could literally do anything and I’m excited,” Linzy said. “After graduation, I’m going to get my pilot’s license and figure out what route to take. I’d love to fly cargo for a non-profit organization.”

Prior to Virginia Tech, Linzy attended Achievable Dream Academy in Newport News, Virginia, from third grade through high school. The school is designed to support students who may otherwise struggle or fail out of school because of socioeconomic factors. It’s working – 95 percent of graduates attend college with the rest joining the military.

“You don’t appreciate Achievable Dream until you get older. By the time I got to high school, I really appreciated it. I’m glad I can just go to my math teacher and talk to him – he’s a reference for the rest of my life,” Linzy said. “I told the director of the school around my sophomore year here at Virginia Tech, 'Thank you.' I felt really prepared for college. The transition was still really hard, but I felt prepared for a lot of the stuff that came my way.”

Virginia Tech formed a partnership with Achievable Dream Academy in 2009 in an effort to help the academy promote the success of first-generation, low-income, and underrepresented students. To support the collaboration, Virginia Tech committed to providing resources to the school, including peer and faculty mentoring, skills development workshops, professional development support, technology sharing, and financial support for academy graduates who enroll at the university.

Linzy received a scholarship to attend Virginia Tech thanks to the schools’ partnership. “I’ve gone through a lot, emotionally and physically, and Virginia Tech has been so great. Academically, there are a lot of resources to help you succeed. Physically, there are opportunities to stay in shape and eat healthy. It’s so great all around,” Linzy said. “I honestly don’t think I could have done better than this school. This was the right school for me.”

Originally, Linzy thought she would pursue a degree in aeronautical engineering, but decided to switch to one of her favorite and strongest subjects in high school – math.

Beyond her studies, Linzy added up experiences outside the classroom, through such student organizations as the Black Student Alliance, Math Club, orchestra, service as a residential advisor, and volunteering.

“I worked with the Coalition for Refugee Kids," she said. "We hung out with refugee kids in Roanoke, which was really cool. I got involved in Relay for Life and Big Event. I volunteered at the Lyric Theater for about four years, which I loved because I love movies. I did a lot of little things, but I just love volunteering and helping people.”

Now Linzy will take the culmination of her experiences here at Virginia Tech and Achievable Dream Academy towards her dream of flying by enrolling in a pilot’s license course and seeing where that leads.

“It may not make me the most money, it may sound insane, but this is what I want to do. Just reflect on that – what do you love to do? You may think you want to do aeronautical engineering, but to sit and really think about it. Does it inspire you?” Linzy said. “Be mature enough to say, 'I love this and it’s my passion. I want to do it regardless of what other people say.' It takes a lot to come to that and say it.”

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