For Immediate Release
January 28, 2020
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Arvin Temkar, USF News

(BPRW) Sophomore CEO

Student runs a business that teaches students how to land scholarships

(Black PR Wire) San Francisco, CA -- Victoria Lamar ’22 is the youngest of four girls, raised by their mother in Atlanta. She always planned to attend college. The question was whether she could pay for it.

But Lamar isn’t the type to wait and wonder. During her senior year of high school, she started applying for scholarships, every one she could find. She treated her applications like homework. She even applied for funding from a fast food chicken chain. She faced rejections at the beginning, but in the end it paid off — big. She estimates she received some $3 million in scholarship offers and aid.

“I came from a very low-income community, so it’s just crazy to be even saying that I’m here at USF debt-free,” she said.

Now, in San Francisco, Lamar is bringing her strategy and energy to the student-services business she runs while also being a student. The business is called Securing Degrees Debt Free, LLC.

Love at First Sight

She said she chose USF because she was admitted into the Honors College and the Black Achievement Success and Engagement program (BASE) — and because she fell in love with the campus during her admission interview.

“USF has been great,” she said. “The black community has definitely made it worthwhile. We’re all pretty tight and close. And because of the location, employers such as McKinsey and Deloitte and Morgan Stanley are all in hand’s reach. I’ve been exposed to a lot of opportunities I might not have been exposed to at other universities.”

She’s also met mentors, like Associate Professor Candice Harrison, faculty director of BASE; Michael Tadesse-Bell, BASE program manager; and Adjunct Professor Marla Lowenthal, of the Rhetoric & Language department, who spent hours prepping Lamar for an on-camera interview with San Francisco television news station KTVU.

“She was at home and we FaceTimed each other, and she was literally drilling me for the interview,” said Lamar, whose success story has made headlines in Atlanta and San Francisco. “She would not let me hang up until I got it right.”

Making Change From USF

Lamar started her business in Atlanta, and has been expanding it in San Francisco, partnering with local school districts and libraries to hold seminars for high school students.

Lamar estimates that her clients have earned about $11 million in scholarships. The business, Lamar said, ties in to USF’s motto of “Change the World from Here.”

“It’s one person at a time, one scholarship at a time, to secure financial freedom,” she said. “I’m just changing the world however I can.”

In the future, Lamar, who is majoring in international business, hopes to live and work abroad. She says her long-term goal is to be the CEO of a nationwide business.

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