By Rosaland Tyler
New Journal and Guide
Instead of becoming a young Black suicidal statistic as a result of depression at age 13, Brandon Anderson became the best kind of statistic when he recently crossed the stage at Virginia State University and picked up his diploma at commencement.
Anderson not only graduated with a business degree on Dec. 16, he received a full scholarship that will help him pursue a master’s degree in computer science at Virginia State. He also heads a company that helps people, especially young children, cope with depression, develop coping skills and make lifestyle changes that improve their overall well-being. He is a role model to many.
Anderson was only seven when his mother died from a thyroid illness that led to a fatal heart attack. His father was incarcerated until he reached age 18. He grew up a ward of the state and lived with his aunt.
Growing up, Anderson says he was depressed, and even had contemplated suicide. In high school, he visited Virginia State University under a college prep program called Go to High School, Go to College. It is sponsored by Virginia State’s Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.
“That’s when everything started to change for me,” Anderson said in a recent statement on the university’s website. “VSU’s programs allowed me to see that there was a better way to live. Virginia State University saved my life.”
Anderson’s depression lifted after he visited Virginia State’s campus and enrolled in the Upward Bound program for high school students. After graduating from high school, he attended a community college for a short time until his finances ran out, requiring him to enter the workforce.
In 2019, he went on to hold several positions with the Department of Defense in Ohio, where he entered and graduated from a community college with a 3.85 GPA.
At age 33, Anderson returned to Virginia and enrolled in Virginia State’s Reginald F. Lewis College of Business. Soon, he launched his own business with support from the university’s programs..
This means Anderson, now 35, is the best kind of statistic, due to the fact that he owns and operates a wellness company, BXclusive Fitness and Nutrition. He continues to help young people experiencing mental health issues.
“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, who graduated with a 4.0 GPA, and is the first in his family to graduate from college. “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.
Dr. Makola M. Abdullah, who heads Virginia State, said in a recent statement on the school’s website, “Brandon Anderson’s story is one of hard work, determination, and perseverance in the face of overwhelming adversity.”
Virginia State has a history of helping its students overcome social, economic, and mental hardships, Abdullah said. “Greater Happens Here at VSU.”