Where Are They Now? An Update from the Class of 2002

As we continue our alumni series, “Where Are They Now,” travel in time with us as we follow our graduates on their journeys and discover how An Achievable Dream made a positive impact on their lives. Also featured in this series are each graduating class’s sponsor to share their inspiration for supporting their class and a reflection from AAD president and CEO, Dr. Lee Vreeland, on each alumni. In this feature, we are highlighting class of 2002 graduate, David Riddick.

Tell us where you are, what you’re doing now, and the accomplishment or life milestones you’re most proud of!

For 15 years, I served as a Security Forces specialist in the United States Air Force and was deployed to Iraq twice, as well as Afghanistan and Jordan. As a Security Forces specialist, I protected nuclear weapons, patrolled outside the wire in Iraq searching for Improvised Explosive Devices (IED), commonly known as roadside bombs, and I earned six medals as a service member. After medically retiring from the military, I completed a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in sociology. Currently, I am living in Waldorf, MD, attending Bowie State University, studying mental health counseling. The accomplishments I am most proud of are earning an associate’s degree in criminal justice and a bachelor’s degree. I am most proud of earning two degrees because An Achievable Dream instilled in students the idea that college is the standard. Respectively, I completed them at the ages of 32 and 36 years old, but I fulfilled my promise to AAD. Receiving my degrees allowed me to fulfill AAD’s core values because they have instilled in me the value of education since I was a child.

What about An Achievable Dream do you feel most prepared you for the career and life you have now?

The specific feature of An Achievable Dream that most prepared me for the military and graduate school is repeating the banners every day at Huntington Park and Dunbar-Erwin’s gymnasium. The comments on the banners instilled confidence, perseverance, and have become a part of my subconscious to fuel an ambition to succeed. Since graduating from high school, there have been times I have doubted my decision, did not think I could earn a degree or did not want to complete a process. However, after remembering AAD’s philosophies to constantly pursue self-improvement, I felt reinvigorated to behave like a dreamer and never quit!

What is next for you?

After I graduate from Bowie State, I plan on trying to become a social scientist to study race, socioeconomic status (SES), and gender relations, along with academic attainment, economics, and other aspects of society. I also desire to get back into law enforcement by pursuing a career as a mental health first responder. Additionally, I have dreams of buying a house and investing. Lastly, I have contemplated returning to Newport News to teach at AAD to educate the next generation.

Now, you will read a reflection from our President and CEO, Dr. Lee Vreeland on David’s journey.

When I think of David in high school, his quick wit is the first thing that comes to mind. He is truly one of the funniest people I have ever met but there was always a quiet greatness in him too. When I reflect on his education, military service, and all of his accomplishments, there is truly no way to adequately express my pride in David. I did not know he had an interest in teaching at An Achievable Dream. We would welcome him with open arms. What a fantastic role-model he would be!

– Lee Vreeland, Ed.D., President/CEO, An Achievable Dream

Continue reading to learn about why the graduating class sponsor from 2002, Mary Hughes, Owner, Hampton Roads Harley-Davidson, chose to invest in the Dream.

I chose to sponsor An Achievable Dream classes because when I first met An Achievable Dream students I knew that these were students that would exceed all expectations when given the opportunity. Every student that I have met at An Achievable Dream has been amazing, focused, and positive. I don’t feel like I gave them a push, I feel that they gave me a pull.

– Mary Hughes