RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Kyle Jacobs is far from your average college graduate — and it’s not just because he’s attending an Ivy League university in the fall.

On May 14, Jacobs will join 527 graduates from Virginia State University in receiving his bachelor’s degree. However, the 26-year-old has overcome a unique set of challenges that has set him apart. A graduate of the VSU College of Agriculture and a member of the Honors College, Jacobs has had to deal with obstacles such as homelessness, foster care and abuse prior to and during his time at VSU.

Kyle Jacobs (Credit: VSU)

According to the university, Jacobs was in and out of foster care, the juvenile detention system and several abusive environments during his youth. The Richmond native began attending VSU in 2015, but transferred to a larger university the following year. He then spent 2016 living in an abandoned house for more than a year because he was unable to get student housing. He returned to VSU in 2020.

This fall, Jacobs will attend Columbia University in New York on a full tuition scholarship. He plans to obtain a master’s degree in Sustainability Management.

Jacobs has completed internships and fellowships for an impressive roster of companies, including Google, Capital One, Microsoft and IBM. He has won more than $50,000 in scholarships and business competitions and is also a member of national and international honor societies. He previously studied abroad in Brazil. He is currently a scholar in the Introduction to Diversity in Doctoral Education Scholarship program at the University of Pennsylvania.