Young Social Impact Heroes: Why and How Victoria Lamar of Securing Degrees Is Helping To Change Our World
Be your own competition: Comparison can be a significant hurdle on the journey to success. Each individual’s path is unique. Once I fully embraced this mindset, I focused on my personal growth and accomplishments, which allowed me to excel without the weight of comparison.
As part of my series about young people who are making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Victoria Lamar.
Raised by a single mother, Securing Degrees Founder and CEO, Victoria Lamar, knew she needed to fund her higher education. Victoria’s mother and grandmother instilled in her and her three sisters early on that college was a must. What started as a quest to outperform her sister, who won $2 Million+ in scholarship offers, Victoria learned how to stand out on scholarship and college applications. After all, she learned the formula! In 2018, Victoria graduated from Westlake High School, accumulating over $3 Million in scholarships and offers, and also profited tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships. Since 2018, now 23 year-old Victoria has worked with numerous organizations, families, and schools to help over 4,000 students secure over $20 Million in scholarships! And now, assists small business owners secure funds through grant writing. Through her personal experience, Vicky has successfully taught hundreds of students how to obtain a debt-free education and business owners secure the funds they need.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?
I grew up in a single-parent household, raised by my mother. From a young age, my mother and grandmother instilled in me and my three sisters the ethos that college education was not just important but an absolute necessity. This upbringing shaped my character and fueled my passion for education.
You are currently leading an organization that aims to make a social impact. Can you tell us a bit about what you and your organization are trying to change in our world today?
As the Founder and CEO of Securing Degrees, my mission is to empower students to achieve a debt-free education. Through personalized coaching, comprehensive resources, and strategic guidance, my organization is striving to level the playing field and make higher education more accessible to all students. I am driven by the ethos of breaking down the financial barriers that often prevent students from pursuing their dreams.
Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?
My passion for helping students secure a debt-free education stems from my own experiences and the pathos of witnessing the life-changing impact of scholarships. When I saw my sister receive over $2 million in scholarship offers, it ignited a fire within me to not only match but surpass her achievements. Through sheer determination and a hunger for knowledge, I managed to accumulate over $3 million in scholarships and offers during my high school years. This transformative experience inspired me to share my expertise and empower students from all backgrounds.
Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest it. They don’t get up and just do it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and do it? What was that final trigger?
My “Aha Moment” came when I realized the unique skills and strategies I had developed could make a significant impact in the lives of students. Reflecting on my own journey and the obstacles I overcame, I felt a profound sense of responsibility to share my knowledge and help other students achieve their educational dreams. The final trigger was the recognition that I had the power to break the cycle of financial hardship and provide students with the tools to create a better future through education.
Many young people don’t know the steps to take to start a new organization. But you did. What are some of the things or steps you took to get your project started?
To launch Securing Degrees, I combined my ethos as a successful scholarship recipient with meticulous planning and strategic steps. I began by conducting extensive research, analyzing scholarship opportunities, and understanding the needs of students and families. This formed the foundation for developing a comprehensive curriculum and coaching program that resonated with students and provided tangible strategies for success. Seeking guidance from mentors and experts in the field was crucial in refining my program and ensuring its effectiveness. Additionally, establishing partnerships with schools, organizations, and community groups expanded the reach and impact of Securing Degrees.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
One of the most captivating and emotionally resonant stories since I began leading Securing Degrees is the story of a student who, despite facing significant financial constraints, was able to secure a full scholarship to their dream university through the guidance and support of my organization. Witnessing the joy and sense of accomplishment on their face was an indescribable feeling. It reinforced the purpose of my work and reminded me of the profound impact we can make on students’ lives.
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Certainly! One of the funniest mistakes I made when I was first starting out was not realizing that I couldn’t charge for my seminar at a local library. I had organized a seminar to share my scholarship strategies and help students, and I thought it would be reasonable to charge a small fee of $5 per person to cover the costs. However, I quickly learned that the library had strict policies against charging for events held on their premises.
From that experience, I learned the significance of thorough preparation and attention to detail when organizing events. It reinforced the importance of understanding the policies and guidelines of each location or institution to avoid any unintentional missteps. Now, I always make sure to familiarize myself with the rules of any venue or organization before planning any events or activities.
None of us can be successful without some help along the way. Did you have mentors or cheerleaders who helped you to succeed? Can you tell us a story about their influence?
Absolutely! I am incredibly fortunate to have had mentors and cheerleaders who played a pivotal role in my success. One of the most influential figures in my life has been my sister, Freddy. She was the one who initially introduced me to the world of scholarships and showed me what was possible. However, behind Freddy’s guidance and support, there was someone even more influential: my grandmother.
My grandmother was the driving force behind Freddy’s journey and scholarship success. She instilled in Freddy a strong work ethic, determination, and the importance of education. As Freddy started winning scholarships and paving her path to a debt-free education, my grandmother held her accountable every step of the way. She was unwavering in her support and expectations, pushing Freddy to be the best version of herself.
Witnessing the impact my grandmother had on my sister inspired me greatly. It taught me the power of mentorship and the transformative effect it can have on someone’s life. My grandmother’s influence extended beyond Freddy, as she became a guiding light for me as well. She believed in my potential and encouraged me to pursue my own scholarship journey.
I will forever be grateful to my grandmother for her unwavering support, wisdom, and belief in me. Her influence continues to shape my path, and I carry her teachings with me as I empower other students on their scholarship journeys. She exemplified the importance of mentorship and how it can truly make a difference in someone’s life.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
One remarkable individual who was greatly impacted by my 1:1 Scholarship Coaching program is Kamyah. When Kamyah came to me, she was a high school senior facing the daunting challenge of not having any college acceptances or financial aid options. It was a disheartening situation that left her feeling uncertain about her future.
Through our 1:1 coaching sessions, I worked closely with Kamyah to identify her unique strengths, passions, and goals. We meticulously crafted compelling scholarship essays and tailored her applications to showcase her exceptional qualities. I provided guidance and support every step of the way, helping her navigate the complex world of scholarships.
Kamyah’s dedication and hard work paid off. She not only secured multiple scholarships but also gained admission to her dream university. The financial burden of higher education was lifted from her shoulders, and she emerged from the process debt-free. This incredible achievement has empowered her to focus on her studies and pursue her academic aspirations without the worry of accumulating student debt.
Witnessing Kamyah’s transformation was truly inspiring. Seeing her overcome obstacles, tap into her potential, and achieve a debt-free education is a testament to the power of personalized scholarship coaching. Kamyah’s success story serves as a powerful example of how securing scholarships can not only open doors to educational opportunities but also provide students with the freedom to pursue their dreams without the burden of student loans.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
Absolutely! Here are three things that the community, society, and politicians can do to help address the root of the problem I am trying to solve:
1. Provide financial support: One of the key challenges in accessing higher education is the financial burden it places on students and their families. By allocating resources and funding to scholarship programs, grants, and financial aid initiatives, the community, society, and politicians can help alleviate the financial barriers that hinder students’ educational aspirations. Investing in scholarships and financial assistance programs ensures that deserving students have the means to pursue their dreams without the burden of overwhelming debt.
2. Sponsor time and expertise: Mentoring and guidance play a crucial role in the scholarship process. By offering their time and expertise, community members, professionals, and experts can provide valuable support to students. This can involve volunteering as scholarship coaches, offering workshops on scholarship application strategies, or serving as mentors to help students navigate the challenges and complexities of securing scholarships. By sharing knowledge and experience, we can empower students to effectively pursue scholarship opportunities and achieve their educational goals.
3. Foster awareness and understanding: It is important for the community, society, and politicians to recognize the privileges they possess and how they can contribute to addressing the inequities in higher education. By raising awareness about the barriers that marginalized and underrepresented students face, we can promote a more inclusive and accessible educational landscape. This includes advocating for policies and initiatives that promote equal opportunities for all students, regardless of their background or socioeconomic status. By fostering understanding and empathy, we can work towards creating a system where higher education is not a burden but a pathway to success and empowerment for every individual.
By coming together and taking these actions, we can make significant strides in addressing the root problems surrounding access to higher education and ensure that no student is held back by financial constraints or limited opportunities. Together, we can create a future where education is truly accessible to all.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why?
1. Rejection is protection: When I first started, I wish someone had told me that rejection is not a reflection of my worth or abilities. It is simply a redirection towards better opportunities. One example of this was when I applied for a prestigious scholarship and got rejected. Initially, I felt disheartened, but later I realized that it pushed me to explore other scholarships that aligned better with my goals and values. Eventually, I secured a scholarship that was a perfect fit for me.
2. Building a team is the hardest part: Starting out, I underestimated the importance of having a strong support system. Building a team of like-minded individuals who share your vision and complement your skills is crucial for success. It took me a while to understand that I couldn’t do everything on my own. Once I started collaborating with others, I witnessed the power of synergy and how it amplified our impact.
3. Follow your gut: There were instances when I doubted my instincts and ended up making decisions that didn’t align with my true aspirations. I wish someone had emphasized the importance of trusting my gut feelings. One specific situation was when I was considering an internship opportunity that seemed impressive on paper but didn’t resonate with my passion. Listening to my intuition and declining that offer allowed me to pursue a different path that brought me immense fulfillment.
4. The now is for later: In the early stages, I often focused too much on short-term goals and immediate gratification. However, I soon realized the significance of investing time and effort in long-term projects and personal growth. It’s important to strike a balance between immediate needs and laying a foundation for future success. One example was when I chose to prioritize developing a scholarship portfolio rather than applying for numerous small scholarships. This strategic decision paid off later when I secured larger, more impactful scholarships.
5. Be your own competition: Comparison can be a significant hurdle on the journey to success. Each individual’s path is unique. Once I fully embraced this mindset, I focused on my personal growth and accomplishments, which allowed me to excel without the weight of comparison.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
If I could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, it would be this:
Follow your genuine passion and make a positive difference with the best of your ability.
When you engage in activities that genuinely resonate with your values and bring you joy, your efforts become more meaningful and sustainable. By pursuing causes and initiatives that align with your authentic interests, you tap into your innate potential to create a lasting impact.
It’s important to remember that positive change can take many forms, whether it’s advocating for environmental conservation, promoting social justice, supporting education, or any other cause close to your heart. Embrace your unique strengths, talents, and interests, and channel them towards making a difference in a way that feels right for you.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
If given the opportunity, I would love to have a private lunch with the Superintendent of any Education System. As an advocate for education and the betterment of students’ lives, I believe a superintendent’s insights and expertise would be invaluable in discussing ways to implement and contract Securing Degrees’ services within school districts.
Having a conversation with the superintendent would allow me to understand the specific needs and challenges faced by school districts and explore how Securing Degrees can align its services to support their goals. I would be interested in discussing strategies to enhance scholarship opportunities for students, promote college readiness, and provide valuable resources to parents and educators.
How can our readers follow you online?
You can connect with me by visiting my website www.securingdegrees.org, instagram @securingdegreesllc and email us at email@example.com .
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success in your great work!
Young Social Impact Heroes: Why and How Victoria Lamar of Securing Degrees Is Helping To Change Our… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.