Paying It Forward

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Danielle Jeffers
Danielle Jeffers

Danielle Jeffers was packing for a study abroad trip to the Steger Center for International Scholarship in Switzerland when she received a letter from the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. Only moments before, the multimedia journalism major had been worrying about the logistical challenges of studying overseas.

As she read her mail, a sense of joy washed over her. She’d been chosen as the 2018–19 recipient of the Dean’s Roundtable Scholarship, a merit-based award honoring an outstanding student within the college.

“Scholarships allow me to enjoy the learning process and take advantage of everything,” Jeffers said. “And the Dean’s Roundtable Scholarship came at a great moment because I could enjoy my study abroad knowing the award would help cover my senior year.”

The Dean’s Roundtable, an advisory board to the college, chose Jeffers with enthusiasm. “Danielle’s initiative and desire to serve others made her a strong prospect for the scholarship,” said Jerry Hulick, chair of the Dean’s Roundtable and a 1973 graduate in political science. “She’s a great example of a liberal arts student who raises the bar for her peers and exemplifies the spirit of the university.”

Jeffers met all the scholarship’s qualifications: strong academic achievement, leadership, and service to others. This included her work as a scholarship coach through her company, Dough 4 Degrees.

Jeffers is an expert in funding one’s higher education, for which she discovered a flair during her senior year of high school. It was then she learned that recent family financial difficulties meant she would have to pay her entire way through college. Undaunted, she researched every support opportunity available and soon found herself able to afford a Virginia Tech degree — debt-free.

During her first year at the university, she discovered she was in a unique situation because many of her peers had long-term student loans that would take years to repay.

She offered to help other students find cost-free financial aid. Then, on a whim during her second semester, she presented the idea for a scholarship-coaching business during a pitching challenge of Virginia Tech’s Apex Center for Entrepreneurs. She was a finalist and received positive feedback.

To learn more about being an entrepreneur, Jeffers completed an externship with Thomas Harrelson Jr., chairman of TMH Global International, LLC, who helped her develop a plan to run the scholarship-coaching business while continuing as a full-time student.

“Scholarships shape the experiences of students everywhere and give them access to a life of financial freedom,” Jeffers said.

In 2019, Dough 4 Degrees is celebrating its third anniversary.

“It’s no joke,” Jeffers said. “Running a business and being a student is no easy task. But it’s the best experiential learning opportunity I could have. And I’m grateful for the Dean’s Roundtable Scholarship because it supports me along my path.”

Written and photographed by Leslie King