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“I know from here, I really will go anywhere”

The first time Likhy Flores pursued a college education, she thought about being a chemist.

A failing grade in organic chemistry weeded her out. Then she went to work and had a baby girl.

A college degree would have seemed like a pipe dream to many in her shoes.

Thanks to Tidewater Community College, it’s a reality.

“You can’t let circumstances stand in your way,” said Flores, at TCC pursuing an Associate of Applied Science in Civil Engineering Technology.

The Miami native said a proverbial crossroads in life led her to TCC, where she explored programs. Having worked in traffic incident management, civil engineering seemed like a good fit.

“I’ve always excelled at math and science, but don’t ask me to write an essay,” she said.

Scholarships eased some of the financial burden. Flores, who spoke at the TCC Educational Foundation’s scholarship luncheon on April 24, received the Dr. Alexsandria Manrov STEM Award and the Genevieve Greer Memorial Scholarship for Returning Women Students.

But credit Flores’ own perseverance for her 4.0 GPA and the associate she will earn in May 2018. She works from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at U.S. Facilities, Inc., in Hampton, a contractor for VDOT. Then she hops in her Nissan Versa to navigate the tunnel for nighttime classes at TCC.

Tuesday is her short day as her class on the Portsmouth Campus ends at 6:45 p.m. Other days she doesn’t get back to her home in the Port Norfolk section of Portsmouth until 10 p.m.

“I plan fastidiously,” she said. “And I don’t make excuses. If I put on my calendar I need to study for a test, I make sure I study for that test.”

In addition to being grateful for the scholarship, Flores is thankful for the flexibility TCC offers. “I’m so thankful that the college offers evening classes,” she said. “I’ve enrolled in classes at every campus.”

Flores wants to transfer to Virginia Tech for her bachelor’s in civil and environmental engineering.

“Ultimately, I see myself working on improving water consumption and usage worldwide,” she said.

She offers this advice: “Don’t let where you are stop you from where you want to be. I know from here, I really will go anywhere.

“I want to show my daughter that, no matter what life brings your way, achieving your dreams is possible.”