Persevering Through Adversity, and Paving the Way for Others

G3 LaTonya Blog

LaTonya first enrolled at one of Virginia’s Community Colleges in 2014, but life got in the way and her road back to school wasn’t the smoothest.

Before re-enrolling at Tidewater Community College in 2022 to pursue an associate degree in human services, LaTonya served time in jail. Upon her release, she started a cleaning business, only to once again face a family crisis when her nephew was shot and killed by the police in 2021.

She needed a change, a change that would help her do good in her community, so she turned to her local community college for answers. She went through all the processes she needed to enroll and get financial assistance, and when she logged into her account, she saw in her financial aid package that G3 had been applied, but she had no idea what it was. She called Tidewater Community College and the person on the other end of the line explained what it was and why it was eligible to go towards her human services degree.

“We need more people like that,” the voice said.

That voice and those funds came at a time when LaTonya needed it the most. Her rent had just gone up several hundred dollars, and she was trying to make ends meet. With an overdrawn account, her paid tuition and $477 was a gift she needed.

“Receiving the G3 grant assistance has been a game-changer for me,” LaTonya said. “As a student juggling the responsibilities of academics, entrepreneurship, and motherhood, it has been immensely challenging to make ends meet, especially with extra expenses such as rent and phone bills. The financial support from the G3 grant played a crucial role in helping me manage these additional costs, providing me with the stability I needed to focus on my studies, my business, and my role as a parent.”

LaTonya went back to school to pursue a degree in human services because, as she says, she can “see people’s hearts,” and when you’ve faced adversity yourself, what better way to raise others up than through your own lived experiences. Which is why hearing that she started her own nonprofit came as no surprise.

LaTonya serves as the CEO of Auntie Advocate, a nonprofit she created that provides essential resources to those impacted by gun violence. Since founding her nonprofit, she’s helped the community pay bills to keep their lights on and she’s collected basketballs and bikes to give back to the youth her organization serves.

Getting her degree in this space will give credibility to the work she’s been doing, and will help her fulfill a passion and a need in her community.

“I work, I clean, but I clean because we have to eat and live, but that’s not my purpose in life,” LaTonya said. “And so, I wanted to make sure that I’m serving my purpose. After G3, I will be who God intended for me to be. That’s it. That’s it. I know this is for a purpose.”

LaTonya didn’t let her record or adversity stand in her way, she let it fuel her dreams and passions. With everything life has thrown her way, her local community college and G3 have helped to take a little bit out of her way so she can focus on the big picture.

“The assistance from the G3 grant has not only lightened my financial burden but has also given me the encouragement and motivation to persevere,” LaTonya said. “With the grant’s support, I have been able to maintain good grades, work on my entrepreneurial endeavors, and provide a stable environment for my family.”