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TCC helps student build a new life

Brian Marshall is one of those people who make you smile when you meet him. He’s affable, relatable and full of joy.

And that was on the worst days of his life.

Brian came to Tidewater Community College after losing his business and his home. He was living in his car, hoping to build a new life.

He came across an online ad for TCC while looking for a job.

Brian Marshall received help on TCC’s Norfolk Campus.

“That was the day I stumbled upon the biggest blessing of my life,” he said. “God placed me with the right people at the right time.”

A trained chef with 16 years of experience in the restaurant industry, Brian selected TCC’s Hospitality Management program. He completed his first semester with a 3.8 GPA while homeless and working overnight shifts at 7-Eleven.

“Those were challenging times with very little sleep,” he said. “But the support network I had at TCC made it possible to keep going.”

Early on at TCC, Brian connected with Kyndra Brown with the Open Door Project and Mel Scott with the Student Resource and Empowerment Center (SREC). He calls the pair his dream team.

“Helping students overcome barriers is what makes the job worthwhile,” Brown said. “Brian is a smart, determined student who now has the opportunity to succeed.”

The Open Door Project provides Brian with specialized support services, tutoring and keeps him accountable for his studies.

In addition, Mel at the SREC connected Brian with needed resources and even got him into transitional housing. “Ms. Mel made miracles happen. She opened so many doors and the results have been astonishing,” Brian said.

Even in the midst of the most difficult circumstances, Brian remained positive and upbeat.

Brian has a lot to smile about! He now has a new apartment and is excelling in school.

“If you have a focused mind, you can accomplish anything,” Brian said. “And you have to encourage yourself with positivity every morning whether that’s with uplifting music or listening to your favorite pastor or podcast. You have to keep your mind on higher things.”

During his TCC journey, Brian also received support and mentoring from Thomas Chatman, dean of student support services and Norfolk Campus dean.

He made connections with faculty members, including Peter Kane, the program head for Hospitality Management and Marlo Calloway, who taught his Student Development class. “I did a presentation in her class about where I want to go and what I want to be after TCC. It was very encouraging to take time to look ahead,” Brian said.

Brian is about to start classes for Fall Semester and things are looking up. He has his own apartment and a reliable job cooking in a well-established restaurant.

He hopes one day to open a restaurant venue where he can host events. He also plans to restart his catering business, Stormy Flavorz, and provide in-home chef services, as well as catering for universities and other venues. Right now, however, he is focused on school and earning his degree.

When he walks across the stage to celebrate graduation and receive his degree in 2024, Brian’s mom, Sharon Thompson, will be there to cheer him on. The duo has plans to take a cruise once that milestone is reached.

“I still have my moments when the tears come and I question everything,” he said. “But when I see the progress I’m making and doors opening, I know I’m on the right track. I do my best to learn from my past but look forward to each new day knowing that my faith in God will carry me.”

If you are a current or prospective TCC student and need support, visit the Student Resource and Empowerment Center and the Open Door Project on the TCC website for more information. For additional student support services, contact the Virtual Student Support Team at or call 757-822-1111.