Published: May 22, 2013
When Brandon Frye finished high school in Washington, D.C., he had no sense of purpose or direction. Despite ranking among Cordoza Senior High School’s top 2010 graduates, he hadn’t sought any scholarships or even applied to college. “I didn’t take school seriously. I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with myself,” he said.
Frye graduated from Thomas Nelson Community College on May 14 and now knows triumph through higher education. After high school he was idle for several months while living with his mother and younger sister. His family suffered consecutive losses that forced him to grow up. “Between [June 2010 and January 2011] my grandmother, grandfather and my aunt died. My grandmother and my aunt had breast cancer,” he said.
His mother frequently missed work while caring for her sister and mother during their illnesses. Eventually she lost her job as a legal secretary. Her struggle opened his eyes.
“My mother didn’t go to college. Right there, I kind of saw the signs…If you don’t have an education [beyond high school] especially in corporate America they can kind of treat you any kind of way,” he said. “So, sometime between June and January, I got a job working at McDonalds on the graveyard shift. I was scrubbing toilets from 9 p.m. to 5 in the morning and cleaning up the restrooms. After a while I was like, ‘I’ve got to go to school. I can’t scrub toilets for the rest of my life making minimum wage.’”
He enrolled at Frostburg State University in January 2011 but only completed one semester. Financial hardship prevented his return to the Western Maryland school. “I was back to square one in D.C. I couldn’t find a job and was just sitting at home sulking and taking everything in,” said Frye. Meanwhile, his mother was still job hunting.
Prompted by a call from his father, Frye made the tough decision to leave his mother’s home and move to Hampton, Virginia. “At first I didn’t want to leave my mom. I wanted to tough it out … to work. My father told me, ‘you could do more for her from down here if you go to school,’” he said. Frye relocated toward the end of that year but got a job in fast food and a second one in retail instead of immediately going to college. This gave Frye time to adjust to living with his father and younger brother. Unpleasant encounters at work once again inspired him to pursue a college education.
He enrolled at TNCC in January 2012 majoring in Science. Despite never having been interested in anything STEM-related before Thomas Nelson, he maintained a 3.4 to 4.0 grade point average. He even made time to enjoy campus life joining the Student Government Association, African American History and Culture Club and Students in Free Enterprise. Frye also volunteered in the community with the Red Cross and Riverside Medical Center.
Hardships behind him, Frye is driven, motivated and passionate about reaching his goals. In addition to meeting the requirements for an Associate of Science Degree in Science, he completed TNCC Workforce Development’s Certified Personal Fitness training program in April. The aspiring doctor is also training with TNCC Physical Education Department Head Tracey Fluharty to compete for the first time in bodybuilding contest this summer. He has also lined up summer internships and will conduct a fitness segment as part of a local cable television program.
Frye refers to life as “the beautiful struggle” and has no intentions of slowing down. “I plan to transfer to Old Dominion University. I’m going to get my degree in exercise and sports science. Then, I’m going to apply to the Doctor’s School of Physical Therapy. But my ultimate goal is to go to medical school and become a medical doctor,” he said.
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