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Student Gucci Livingston's determination inspires

March 17, 2017

Gucci smiles with his three-year-old son Jaiden on his shoulder.
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.”

The Division of Student Affairs’ Aspirations for Student Learning represent the pinnacle of Virginia Tech’s aspirations for students and for our community. They are:

  • Commit to unwavering CURIOSITY ― Virginia Tech students will be inspired to lead lives of curiosity, embracing a life-long commitment to intellectual development.
  • Pursue SELF-UNDERSTANDING and INTEGRITY ― Virginia Tech students will form a set of affirmative values and develop the self-understanding to integrate these values into their decision-making.
  • Practice CIVILITY ― Virginia Tech students will understand and commit to civility as a way of life in their interactions with others.
  • Prepare for a life of COURAGEOUS LEADERSHIP ― Virginia Tech students will be courageous leaders who serve as change agents and make the world more humane and just.
  • Embrace UT PROSIM as a way of life ― Virginia Tech students will enrich their lives through service to others.

Students and employees who embrace one of these five Aspirations can be nominated for an Aspire! Award. Visit the Aspire! Awards website for nomination information and deadlines, and to read about other extraordinary Aspire! Award recipients.

The Division of Student Affairs celebrates the Aspirations for Student Learning through Aspire! Award presentations five times each academic year. At each celebration, a different Aspiration is explored, extraordinary students and employees are recognized, and the audience is challenged to seek knowledge in everyday experiences.

In addition to celebrating Aspire! Award recipients, Strengths-Based Learning is hosting two workshops focused on how an individual’s strengths apply to preparing for a life of courageous leadership. The workshops will take place on March 23 and March 24. Students can RSVP on GobblerConnect.

Both workshops will take place in the Payne Hall Conference Room from noon to 1:15 p.m. Feel free to bring a bagged lunch.

Written by Holly Paulette

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