During his sophomore year at Buckingham County High School, Ty’Leik Chambers made a decision that focused the course of his life and set him on an education and career path that he hopes will culminate with a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. Although Ty’Leik was a strong student, he did not feel challenged. “I wanted to do something hard,” he says. So, Ty’Leik decided to apply for admission into the Governor’s School of Southside Virginia(GSSV).
The Virginia Governor’s School Program began in 1973 to help address the needs of academically motivated young people like Ty’Leik who thrive in a demanding, interdisciplinary environment.
GSSV, one of 19 academic-year schools within the Governor’s School program, is sponsored by the Virginia Department of Education in partnership with ten participating school divisions. Southside Virginia Community College hosts the school at its two main campuses. Students from Brunswick, Greensville, Mecklenburg (Park View High School), and Nottoway counties attend classes at SVCC’s Christanna Campus in Alberta. Ty’Leik and his classmates from Buckingham County High School along with their peers from Amelia, Charlotte, Cumberland, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg (Bluestone), and Prince Edward counties attend classes at SVCC’s John H. Daniel Campus in Keysville.
Laurie Michaelson, GSSV Director says, “We have wonderful students at GSSV, and Ty’Leik is a great example of our student body. He is intelligent, grounded, service minded, and motivated to learn.”
Ty’Leik credits his family for encouraging him. “My mom always promoted education. She encouraged me to apply to Governor’s School. She was my inspiration and was very supportive.”
His older sister was also instrumental. “Instead of reading just stories, she would read to me out of her text books. I still remember some of the facts she read.”
Now in his senior year, Ty’Leik reflects on his education journey so far, “It’s been way better than I expected. I have friends from other counties who are people like me, people who really value the education and opportunities they have and do not waste it.”
One of his teachers, Leslie Poling, says, “Ty'Leik is a wonderful student. He is equally adept at being a leader and a worker bee. He also knows when to take each role. I had him in chemistry last year and research this year. He is hard working, a high achiever, and able to work well with anyone.”
Research is a key component of the GSSV curriculum. All students are a required participate in the development and execution of an original, two-year research project. Ty’Leik’s project focuses on a safety issue. “If someone is cooking on a grill, it can start a fire if it is too close to the house.” With two other students, he is investigating a way to determine if the type of paint used on a building’s exterior impacts its risk of catching on fire. Ty’Leik and his group will present their findings at a research symposium to be held on SVCC’s Daniel Campus.
The opportunity to conduct and present original research makes an impressive entry on students’ college applications, and Ty’Leik has ambitious plans for his future. “After graduation, I would like to attend the University of Virginia with a double major in pre-law and American studies, or at least a minor in American Studies. After graduation from UVA, I’d like to go to Harvard Law School.” He also has his ideal career path plotted. “I’d like to become a district attorney, then a judge, and then a justice on the Supreme Court.”
He explains, “I grew up hearing stories of great African Americans who influenced and shaped the direction of our country.” Ty’Leik hopes to follow in the footsteps of some of these great Americans.
Ty’Leik is eager to take up that mantle of leadership and help steer the nation toward a brighter future. To students who may be considering applying to GSSV, he offers this advice: “Yes. It can be a challenge. But it can be overcome. Classes are hard but the relationships with the teachers and the knowledge they provide makes it possible. GSSV is a wise and smart decision.”
For information about GGSV, visit gssv.southside.edu