Skip navigation

Math whiz overcomes hard times to go from here to Virginia Tech engineering

Hard work doesn’t deter Kenneth Moody. Neither do tough circumstances.

Math? Easy stuff for Moody, who graduated from Tidewater Community College on May 16 with an Associate of Science in Engineering and will attend the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech this fall. The president of the Mu Alpha Theta math honor society and Learning Assistance Center (LAC) tutor on the Portsmouth Campus refuses to allow students struggling with math to give up.

“I tell them never give up,” he says.

Instead, Moody persevered through homelessness and sometimes hunger. The day after he graduated from Virginia Beach’s Green Run High School, “We lost our house,” he said, leaving his parents and sister, Kenisha, homeless.

His father was unemployed. They hotel hopped for a while until money ran out, leaving the family of four to take refuge in a small car. Moody survived on occasional fast food and saltine crackers. Temporary housing in Newport News’ East End was only a short-term answer that became moot when his father was robbed and deemed the area unsafe.

Moody had been accepted at Virginia Commonwealth University for the fall and at the last minute, he used his financial aid to go. He loved the school and his nuclear engineering major, “But I knew before I went there I wouldn’t be able to stay,” he said

One semester in, he returned to Hampton Roads, hotel hopping again with his family. Finally, they found housing in Portsmouth, albeit without heat, a refrigerator or furniture. Lying on the hardwood floor to sleep with only clothes as cushion, Moody dreamed of a college education and decided TCC was his best option. Financial aid covered his tuition, and he enrolled in spring 2013 as an engineering major. Shortly after, he became a math tutor in the LAC.

“I love school,” he says. “I like learning and being in a classroom setting, especially if I’m interested in the information.”

When the math honor society needed a president, Moody, who scored a 5 on his AP calculus test, jumped at the chance. His professors solidified his work ethic by continually challenging him. His confidence grew with his high grades and he applied to the School of Engineering at Virginia Tech, among the top universities in the nation for engineering according to the 2015 rankings in U.S. News & World Report.

“More than my grades, I was more concerned about if I felt personally prepared for Tech,” he said. “I feel like I am. I know I am.”

Life still isn’t a cakewalk for Moody. His family relocated to Hampton, and with only one car, his father drove him to the Chesapeake Campus for classes last spring and Moody would take the bus to the Portsmouth Campus for his job at the LAC. Watching his father find a way to keep the family together, seeing his mother not let her pride get in the way of asking for help and feeling his own confidence rise given his accomplishments at TCC, Moody moves forward a proud man.

He will major in mechanical engineering at Tech with hopes of eventually designing automobiles for safety.

“Many times I thought I couldn’t go on another week,” Moody says. “I went from sleeping on clothes to an air mattress to a box spring and mattress and finally got some bed rails. Plenty of times I wanted to give up. Just to be in this position where I am now and have an associate and I’m going to Virginia Tech – it’s all a blessing.”

TCC Alumni footer