Four years ago, Reco Charity of Richmond arrived in Blacksburg not knowing a single person.

By his final year at Virginia Tech, he was involved in multiple organizations and had established strong relationships with his classmates and professors. Charity, a graduating senior who will receive his finance degree from the Pamplin College of Business, worked tirelessly to get into college and worked even harder to do well enough to be admitted to Howard University School of Law, where he is expected to start in fall 2013.

Charity was due to become the first person in his family to graduate from college. Despite his family’s financial difficulties, his mother encouraged him to work hard and do well in school in the hope that he would one day attend a university. As a recipient of financial aid from the university’s Presidential Scholarship Initiative, Charity received a full ride to Virginia Tech as long as he maintained a strong grade point average each year.

“The PSI took so much stress off my shoulders,” said Charity, referring to the scholarship initiative by its initials. “It gave me the opportunity to explore a different field and I really have to recognize that it’s the reason I can go to law school. If I had a lot of debt, it would be impossible.”

The initiative was created in 2008 to reward and assist academically talented high school students from low-income families in Virginia, with preference given to first-generation college attendees. Scholarships from the initiative are awarded each year to as many as 50 students who, like Charity, have demonstrated persistence and a commitment to academic excellence despite adverse life situations.

“I knew he would accomplish a lot since he was six years old and he told me he was going to be the first black president,” said Charity’s mother, Sabrina Charity. “I told him he’d be the best president, and since then he’s always tried to be the best at everything.”

In five years, Charity says he hopes to be the best at constitutional law, and to one day run a business. His finance major and political science minor have given him the experiences he has needed to be on track toward his career goals.

Along with taking demanding and challenging classes, Charity learned how to manage his time so he could become involved in the campus community. He credits his experiences in the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and the National Pan-Hellenic Council with allowing him to meet a diverse range of people, and he was vice president of both organizations during his senior year.

“The best learning experience is one where there is a compilation of people from different backgrounds and cultures,” Reco Charity said. “If we all know the same things and experience all the same things in life, how could we possibly learn from one another?”

With his executive positions, Charity gained leadership skills by overseeing all committees and events for both his fraternity and the council. He performed hours of community service for the fraternity while being the voice and representation of the council to the campus and Greek community. These organizations gave him the opportunity and ability to strengthen his time management skills.

Charity said he not only learned a lot from his peers and professors while at Virginia Tech, he also learned a great deal about himself.

He said he has always lived by the philosophy of never giving up, even when faced with disappointments such as not being admitted to one particular law school that he repeatedly visited to sit in on classes and network with administrators.

“Everyone fails at some point,” Charity said. “It’s the courage to keep going after you fail that really distinguishes people.”

In addition to being a very self-motivated person, Charity says he is also motivated by his younger sister, Destinee Charity. He credits her with teaching him how to lead by example. Reco Charity said one reason he never considered giving up on his educational objectives was the possibility his sister might do the same.

Destinee Charity is not due to start high school until fall 2013, but that has not stopped her older brother from helping her map out a high-school experience that will hopefully result in her attending a university.

“All the things I’ve learned since I’ve been in college I take back to her,” Reco Charity said. “She knows so much more than I did at her age.”

The most important lesson Reco Charity says he believes he has shared with his sister is his definition of success.

“I told her that it’s not about the monetary things, like building a big house or buying a nice car,” he explained. “Your success is what you to do help those who come behind you.”

As Destinee Charity says, her and her brother’s success is a joint affair -- one can only feel successful if the other succeeds as well.

If his Virginia Tech experience is any indication, Reco Charity’s streak of success in school, and life, will only continue as he sets off to another new school, where he may not know a single person at first, on his path to accomplish his many ambitious goals.

Written by Meghan McDonald.

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