Elliott planned to take classes at the Chesapeake Campus for one year, and then move on to bigger, better things.
That was before he met Linda Rice (former provost), Vince Gary and Sara Hair. “I immediately felt at home and accepted,” Elliott said. “I jumped into campus life and quickly developed leadership skills that I didn’t even know I had.”
Elliott worked in the provost’s office and was soon serving as president of Student Government Association and charter president of Circle K International, a collegiate volunteer organization that focuses on children and youth. He was also an active member of Phi Theta Kappa, the honor society for two-year schools.
University of Virginia was the next stop on Elliott’s educational path, after earning his Associate of Applied Science in Social Sciences from TCC.
“People are always surprised when I tell them that I got my start at TCC. There’s still this thinking that community college provides an inferior education. I’m proud to show them that this is not the case,” Elliott said.
While at Virginia studying psychology, Elliott found his life’s calling after an HIV scare that could have altered his life. “In that moment, I realized that I didn’t know anything about protecting myself. I decided that I wanted to be the voice of change and information for people in similar circumstances,” Elliott said.
Elliott spent almost all of his free time volunteering for Thrive, a nonprofit providing medical care and support services for those who could be at risk for contracting HIV/AIDS. “One day the manager offered me a job, saying I might as well get paid, as I was there all the time,” he said.
Today, Elliott serves as the program recruitment specialist and interim testing coordinator for Thrive. “I’m a people person, so this job is a great fit,” Elliott said. “I’m out in the community, offering free HIV testing and giving people the facts so they can make informed choices.
“Some days you’ll find me speaking to a group of women at the Baptist church,” he said, “Other times I’m talking with at-risk teens. The days are incredibly rewarding.”
Elliott hopes to one day be a motivational speaker and share his personal story of faith, hope and finding true happiness. “It wasn’t until I got out of the box and started living my own life that I found myself,” he said. “By sharing our experiences, we empower others to do the same thing.”
On the day of his graduation on the lawn in Charlottesville, Elliott proudly wore his TCC alumni pin. “My time at TCC was formative, and I’m so thankful,” he said. “Walking through the doors of TCC was one of the best decisions of my life.”