Virginia Tech student’s determination inspires

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Gucci Livingston and his son Jaiden have traveled a nontraditional path to get to Virginia Tech, but the single father’s dedication to his education, his son, and their future is leaving a mark on this university.

In the fall of 2012, Lamont “Gucci” Livingston was a first-year engineering student at Virginia Tech on scholarship and breezing through his first semester with a 3.0 GPA.

Two weeks into spring semester, Livingston got news that changed the trajectory of his college experience. His girlfriend was pregnant.

The spring semester brought more challenges than the fall, and what was happening at home kept Livingston from the success he needed to maintain his scholarship. Without a scholarship, he couldn’t stay at Virginia Tech.

Livingston headed home, but, four months after his son was born, he found himself homeless. Livingston spent the next year-and-a-half working and house-hopping in Newport News and Hampton, Virginia, all while having joint custody of his son.

But his 3-year-old son, Jaiden William Malik Livingston, is his pride and joy.

In the summer of 2015, Livingston returned to Blacksburg to work and fight his way back to Virginia Tech. He and Jaiden were sleeping on a friend’s couch each night, but he restarted classes again in the fall of 2015.

“I was determined to return with a vengeance and return with a mission — not only to make a way for myself but to pave a way for those coming behind me,” said Livingston. “It became much bigger than me. I could no longer just make choices for me. It was for us.”

Unable to pay for childcare, Livingston not only brought along his new-found tenacity to class — he also brought Jaiden. Every group project, every club and organization, every visit to the Black Cultural Center — his little Hokie was there.

By spring 2016, Livingston defied all odds and made it onto the Dean’s List. He and Jaiden got a room in an apartment, no longer sharing a couch each night. This past fall, Livingston was approved for childcare. Since returning to Virginia Tech, he raised his cumulative GPA to a 2.65.

“We all deserve to be here if we made it here,” Livingston said.

In February 2017, Livingston was awarded a Division of Student Affairs Aspire! Award, honoring a student who is preparing for a life of courageous leadership. The award recognized the courage Livingston displays in his dedication to his son, his work, his education, and his legacy.

Livingston is a single father, on track to graduate next May with a degree in packaging systems and design in the College of Natural Resources and Environment. He’s a leader in multiple student organizations and working both night and day shifts to support his family. Day in and day out, his son watches his father work toward his dreams.

“I second-guessed myself every day, but my son’s face was all I could see when I wanted to give up,” Livingston said. “Knowing that it could be done gave me the fight to finish.”

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