After Losing His Mother At Age 7 And Contemplating Suicide, VSU Graduate Brandon Anderson Found His Purpose Helping Young Children With Depression

After Losing His Mother At Age 7 And Contemplating Suicide, VSU Graduate Brandon Anderson Found His Purpose Helping Young Children With Depression

35-year-old Anderson has a 4.0 GPA and will be among the 280 students graduating from VSU at 2023 Fall Commencement.

When Brandon Anderson was 13 years old, he battled depression after the passing of his mom. He had no plans of furthering his education and, in his darkest moment, considered taking his own life before reaching high school. However, one trip to Virginia State University changed Anderson’s life forever. On December 16, 2023, he will graduate from VSU with a business degree and will stay with the university to pursue his Master’s in Computer Science on a full scholarship.

“Brandon Anderson’s story is one of hard work, determination, and perseverance in the face of overwhelming adversity,” said VSU President Dr. Makola M. Abdullah. “Our university being a large part of Anderson’s journey of overcoming social, economic, and mental hardship, is the epitome of Greater Happens Here at VSU.”

When Anderson was seven years old, he lost his mother to a thyroid health condition that resulted in a heart attack. With his dad incarcerated until he was 18, Anderson grew up as a ward of the state and lived with his aunt, but never felt the love and support of having a true family.

Anderson found hope after visiting VSU as part of Alpha Phi Alpha’s Go to High School Go to College Program. The experience allowed Anderson to see what the typical day was like for a college student and opened his mind to the possibilities that could come from earning a degree.

“That’s when everything started to change for me,” said Anderson. “VSU’s programs allowed me to see that there was a better way to live. Virginia State University saved my life.”

After he visited VSU, Anderson was accepted into the university’s Upward Bound Program. The program allowed him to spend time on campus throughout high school, participating in academic classes, group activities, individual counseling sessions, organized recreation, and various cultural experiences designed to generate the skills and motivation necessary for students to succeed in education beyond high school.

Unfortunately, even after graduating high school with newfound ambition, Anderson struggled to further his education. He attended a local community college for one year but had to leave after losing his financial aid and maxing out multiple credit cards to try and pay for tuition.

So, Anderson went into the workforce, hoping to save enough money to someday return to school. In 2019, he was offered a job as a quality assurance expert for the Department of Defense (DOD). Not long after he was hired, the DOD asked Anderson if he would relocate to Ohio to assist with a new transportation office. They also offered to pay for his tuition to attend community college. Anderson took advantage of the opportunity and earned his Associate’s Degree from a community college in Ohio, graduating with a 3.85 GPA.

Anderson came a long way but still wanted to attend the university where he felt like family. In 2021, at age 33, Anderson returned to Virginia and enrolled in VSU’s Reginald F. Lewis College of Business. From there, it became clear what Anderson was meant to do.

With help from the university’s Minority Small Business Launch Center within the VSU Center for Entrepreneurship, he started his own wellness company, BXclusive Fitness and Nutrition. Anderson says his business is designed to help people, especially young children with depression and other mental health issues, develop coping mechanisms and make lifestyle changes to improve their overall well-being.

When Anderson graduates this fall, he will be the first person in his family to do so, and he will do it with a perfect 4.0 GPA. This helped him earn a full-ride into VSU’s Master’s program for Computer Science, which he accepted over pursuing a Master’s in Business from Columbia University. Anderson’s decision to remain a Trojan came down to choosing where he felt most at home and also the place that helped him realize his passion.

“I found a sense of family and a support system at Virginia State that has allowed me to help others that have also faced difficult obstacles,” said Anderson. “VSU has allowed me to be who I am. My heart is here, so I’m not going anywhere.”

In addition to starting his own business while at Virginia State University, Anderson also tutored K-12 students interested in STEM, participated in the FBI Cyber Collegiate Academy, and represented VSU at the 2023 HBCU Battle of the Brains and the Thurgood Marshall Leadership Institute in 2022 and 2023.

Anderson says he is excited to start the next chapter and begin his Master’s coursework, but not before he walks across the stage to have his bachelor’s degree conferred at the Fall 2023 Commencement ceremony. The ceremony will begin with a processional at 8:30 am on Saturday, December 16, in the VSU Multipurpose Center, with Delegate Luke Torian delivering the keynote address.