grad driven to help his family
Ida Lee Wootten
Tillman Breckenridge was 15, he set an unusual goal for himself:
to improve his parents lives.
10th-grader at the time, Breckenridge resolved to move his parents
from the rapidly deteriorating Virginia Beach neighborhood where
he spent much of his youth. He decided to accomplish that by focusing
so seriously on education that he would graduate from college
in two years and get a good job.
only did he graduate from the University in two years, but on
May 20, at the age of 22, he will receive a law degree from U.Va.
and will soon join one of the nations top law firms in Chicago.
he put himself on a fast track, he has no regrets as he gets closer
to his goal.
Breckenridge family moved to the College Park section of Virginia
Beach in 1983. Over the years, the neighborhood deteriorated,
becoming a large drug-distribution point, Breckenridge
father grew up in Chicagos Southside and fought in Vietnam.
Hes heard more than his share of gun shots in his life.
My mother grew up with none of that and shouldnt have to
get used to it. I want to move my parents to a place where they
no longer will hear shots, he said.
entered U.Va. with approximately 11û2 years worth of college
credit through Advanced Placement courses and exams. He earned
a B.A. in psychology
in two years with a good grade-point average. But he didnt
keep his nose in the books all the time: he acted with the First-Year
Players, served as sports writer for the student newspaper and
worked at the U.Va. Aquatic and Fitness Center.
in law school, Breckenridge
remained active in the University community. He served two years
on the University Judiciary Committee, becoming the vice chair
for trials. He has also been active in the Student Bar Association.
Breckenridge believes its best for students to take their
time in college to explore the many possibilities available, he
has no regrets about his path.
I did it quickly, I dont think Ive missed a thing.
The University has given me a lot, and I have given a lot back,
was a law student, but I really led twso lives. Each could be
an oasis from the other, he added. There was Law
Tillman, which is pretty much how everyone knows me now.
But also, there was College Tillman. All my friends
from college were still around for my first two years of law school.
For those first two years, I got a chance to be a college kid
on occasion. So, I dont really feel like Ive cheated
myself out of the college experience by finishing early. I got
the best of both worlds.
Breckenridge has school loans to repay, he is optimistic that
he can help his family move soon. His mother started an insurance
agency, which is growing and generating revenue, and he expects
to contribute substantially to the household.
parents have worked excruciating hours for little reward ever
since I can remember. I would like to see them relax a little
more and take a vacation or two, he said.