At the beginning of Danielle Jeffers’ senior year of high school, her parents sat her down and said, “You need to go to college, but we can’t pay for it.”

This conversation launched Jeffers into a life and a purpose that is making an impact and creating opportunities for her generation.

Jeffers began to research scholarships, organizing her options and creating a plan to get to college. But she was in a Governor’s School, taking advanced courses, caring for her parents, and serving in the community. Jeffers knew that to get to college, she’d have to sacrifice, and any investment now would pay off later.

She started to wake up at five o’clock each morning, chipping away at essays and reference letters and resumé fine-tuning. In the beginning, her goal was a scholarship that would have provided for her entire education and beyond.

But she didn’t receive that scholarship.

“It was heartbreaking. It took me a week to digest and move on, but it was a game changer,” said Jeffers. “If I had received that one, I probably would’ve just stopped there. But I didn’t. And that’s what kept me going.”

In five months, Jeffers earned 20 scholarships totaling more than $100,000.

Her quest didn’t stop there — or with herself. She decided she wanted to pass on her tenacity, dedication, and conviction that anyone can go to college if they put in the effort.

In January 2016, Jeffers founded Dough 4 Degrees, a remote scholarship-coaching company. She works with students from across the nation as they too navigate the scholarship process. In the past year, Dough 4 Degrees has helped more than 30 students and families earn more than $60,000 collectively in scholarships. Jeffers said she just wants to empower her peers not to be held back because of finances.

“I’m passionate about making sure students get what they need and don’t have to suffer and sacrifice a lot to get it,” Jeffers said. “You shouldn’t have to graduate with debt to get a degree.”

Although her credits classify her as a first-semester senior, Jeffers is actually just a sophomore, with no plans to graduate early.

With the money she has earned, Jeffers will explore all the opportunities offered to her as a multimedia journalism major in the Department of Communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. She’s an honors student double minoring in entrepreneurship and cinema, with a cognate in diversity and community engagement. And that’s just inside the classroom.

A member of the Innovate living-learning community and countless other organizations on campus, Jeffers said that the highlight of her college experience has been connecting with other Hokies. In February, she was honored with a Division of Student Affairs Aspire! Award, which celebrates Virginia Tech’s aspirations for students and the Hokie community.

When asked what advice she’d give to other students, Jeffers said, “Just do it. Don’t spend too much time questioning or trying to figure it all out. Always have a plan and put forth the effort, but if you mess up, bounce back and surround yourself with good people who will pick you back up.”

Written by Holly Paulette