"I can do hard things"

A Burger’s Perspective on Her Williamsburg Education

When I learned that Jordan B, a student at Leadership Academy of Nevada, a Williamsburg Learning school, received the Dean’s Scholarship and Women of Excellence Awards from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, I asked her how her Williamsburg Learning school helped her prepare for and earn these honors. Her response captures the experience described by many of our students, which may be summarized as follows: 
  1. Student finds her dream or passion in a Williamsburg classroom experience, reading, or assignment
  2. Student works very hard to accomplish her dream or explore her passion, guided by parents and Williamsburg mentors
  3. Student is transformed by the process of pursuing her dream or passion and often accomplishes the very dream or passion that motivated her journey
We are proud of Jordan B for taking this journey and love her and all of our students.
James Ure
President, Williamsburg Learning


Jordan B and Williamsburg Learning CEO, Nels Jensen, at Leadership Academy of Nevada’s graduation ceremony.

At Williamsburg Learning schools, students often quote the phrase “I can do hard things.” During our teenage years, particularly those spent in high school, many things feel ‘hard,’ so this quote has inspired me and countless other students to press on and keep fighting when things get tough. But sometimes, it isn’t enough for us to tell ourselves that we can do hard things. We have to actually go and do them.

Williamsburg Learning is full of students who do just that: We make ourselves do hard things. We have mentors who inspire us and parents who have faith in and support us. My time as a ‘Burger’ was just that—a “hard thing.” As hard as it was, though, I feel that the outcome was worth the trials, tests, and road bumps along the way.

I have always had an interest in the sciences and have a fairly strong aptitude for mathematics. From a young age, I knew that I wanted to have a career in the sciences. I was never sure which field of study I loved more than the others and struggled to decide what to study after high school.

When I was fifteen, I logged into one of my live online courses, Astronomy. Throughout the semester, I learned so many interesting things and had many great, in-depth discussions with my class and mentor, Mr. Rees. Because of the fun I had studying in that class, and thanks to all of the great things I was learning, I signed up to take that class again when the next school year came around. After my first year in the class, I knew that astronomy was definitely one of the top choices on my “fields of study” list, and after my second year in that course, I knew exactly what I wanted to pursue as a career: astronomy.

During my senior year of high school, I was struggling to decide which college I should apply to when I received an email from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Intrigued, I looked into the college a little more and found that they were one of the top schools in the nation for Aviation, Engineering, Aerospace, and Astronomy. I instantly had a feeling in my gut that this was where I needed to go to study the science about which I was so passionate. All year I worked on my application, essay, and resume to make sure they were flawless. I felt so confident in my resume and application that there wasn’t a doubt in my mind about getting in. When I finally submitted my application, I grew nervous. I started to doubt myself. This was a high-ranking school in my field, and I was right out of high school with no other schooling experience or credit under my belt to really help me stand out. I just had to trust that my grades and time in student leadership during high school would be enough to put me over the top. Finally, the day arrived when I received a letter from the school saying, “Congratulations, Welcome to Embry-Riddle!” I was elated! I had actually made it into this amazing school and would be on my way towards my dream job!

A few days later, I had received yet another letter in the mail. It was a scholarship letter from Embry-Riddle stating that due to my academic success in high school, I would annually receive the “Women of Excellence” scholarship as well as the “Dean’s Scholarship” during my time at the University. My mind was blown. Receiving such amazing scholarships from such an amazing school was such an honor.

Both of these events caused me to deeply reflect on what led me to this point. Being home-educated, my parents and family never gave up on me or let me give up on myself or my dreams. I could ask for help, but I was never able to say the words, “I can’t do this.” I had incredible mentors during high school who pushed me to my breaking point and then further, and when I wanted to give up, neither my family nor my mentors would let me. Ultimately, they let me know it was my choice, but I could see how far I had come, so I couldn’t let them down.

My mentors cared about me and helped me succeed in all I did. I trust each of them. If I was struggling with anything, be it school, friends, life itself, or finding the motivation to push through the roadblocks trying to stop me, I knew that I could turn to them and deeply trust in their counsel and advice. They want to see their students succeed and thrive—not because it’s their job, but because they care!

The Williamsburg coursework itself was hard, and it is because of the coursework, readings, and assignments that I truly believe in the aforementioned phrase that “I can do hard things.” I believe it because I have done hard things. I have taken assessments and exams that have tested my knowledge. I have been in discussions and debates where I was 100% sure of my way of thinking, only to have it challenged and tested, not only by mentors but also by my peers. Rather than peer pressuring me, they truly, deeply challenged my thought processes and ways of perceiving the world. I have sacrificed sleep because I was so caught up in a reading or was “in my zone” writing an essay. The coursework at this school was never “busy work” to me; rather, it helped me develop my mental capacity and truly inspired me to become the person and leader I am today.

All good things come at a cost. For me, receiving the higher level of education that Williamsburg Learning offers was well worth it. I know that sometimes, the cost seems too much to pay, but if you want it enough and work for it, the rewards far outweigh any of the struggles along the way. I know that I can do hard things because I reach upward, and I was prepared as a promising student for a very meaningful life as a principled leader.

– Jordan B

July 10, 2017