Views Degrees as Means For Removing Family From Deteriorating Neighborhood
3, 2001-- When Tillman Breckenridge was 15, he decided
to rev his life into high gear, in a drive to improve his parents
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. To reach that goal, he assigned
himself an ambitious task: to graduate from college in two years.
only did he graduate from the University of Virginia in two years,
but on May 20, at the age of 22, he will receive a law degree from
U.Va. He will soon join one of the nations top law firms in
son of James and Earlette Breckenridge, Tillman Breckenridge and
his family moved to the College Park section of Virginia Beach in
1983. Over the years, the neighborhood deteriorated, becoming "a
large drug-distribution point."
father grew up in Chicagos Southside and fought in Vietnam.
Hes heard more than his share of gun shots in his life,"
Breckenridge said. 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."
to move his parents out of their neighborhood and determined to
become a lawyer, Breckenridge pushed in Tallwood High School to
take Advanced Placement exams -- even in subjects where he wasnt
enrolled in AP classes. He graduated from high school in 1996 with
an impressive 45 AP credits.
however, did not devote himself exclusively to studying in high
school. He was active in theater and served as captain of the Debate
Team and Its Academic quiz team.
scoring 4 or above on the AP exams, Breckenridge earned approximately
1-1/2 years worth of college credit. After carrying 38 credit hours
during his first year at U.Va., he completed the required number
of credit hours for his psychology major in just three semesters.
earned a B.A. in psychology in two years with a good grade-point
average, despite being active in First-Year Players, serving as
sports writer for the student newspaper and working at the U.Va.
Aquatic and Fitness Center.
in law school, Breckenridge
has remained active in the University community. He served two years
in the University Judiciary Committee, including the vice chair
for Trails position. Hes also been active in the Student Bar
Breckenridge believes it's 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. I have
no regrets," Breckenridge said.
was a law student, but I really led two 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.
Ida Lee Wootten, (804) 924-6857