Ambition is ripe amongst Virginia Union University students. A historic university with a plethora of names of students and alumni who have made great contributions to society, here are three ambitious young men- Ryan Bell, KiDeem Frierson, and Jonathan Freeman- aim to have their names among Virginia Union’s elite. Their first plan of action is to establish A.Y.O.- Advancing Your Opportunities- as a premier non-profit organization dedicated to unifying the educational, local and organizational communities.

KiDeem Frierson, an alumnus who graduated in May 2011 with his degree in Computer Information Systems, says A.Y.O. was founded to make a change for themselves and for their community. KiDeem does not want to spend his entire life working answering to someone else. He wants to be his own boss, and help up and coming entrepreneurs develop their brand as well. “I want to show other young men that they can have their own and still be wealthy without working 45 years for someone else.”

Ryan Bell, a graduating senior majoring in Marketing from Roanoke, VA agreed with these sentiments, adding that promoters would not fully compensate student organizations for their partnerships in business ventures, even though said promoters were the ones approaching them for advertising and marketing. “A.Y.O was formed to hold this same type of events but to assure that all parties involved would be fairly rewarded.”

“I have always had an interest in making my own money, being my own boss and the freedom associated with being in business for yourself.”

“Being that our backgrounds are diverse, this really allows us to go into certain situations from  a broad perspective,” says Jonathan Freeman, the third co-founder of A.Y.O. hailing from Portsmouth, Virginia. Freeman added, “I feel that with today’s economic pressure and shortage of employment opportunities, one must be willing and brave enough to invest in himself or herself.”

“I would have to say my motivation is fueled by my parents. I want to prove to them that the sacrifices that they made for me were not in vain.”

KiDeem, a native of Patterson, New Jersey, said, “We want to be the positive thing in the community that’s shows there is good in the community highlight the good, which in turn will give motivation to the ones who thought they couldn’t do good because of their situation.”

“My motivation is all the fatherless young men and women who grow up in the urban area. They motivate me because it has shown me how far I have come and its my responsibility to bring somebody else through with me.”

All three co-founders argee that attending a HBCU has helped them mature as businessmen and in life. “Attending a HBCU really helped me develop my business skills. It allowed me to use everything I learned in the classroom in real life.” KiDeem said.

“VUU has taught me life skills, personnel skills as well as social skills that have allowed me to hold my own at any business event. I have learned a great deal in the classroom as well, but I must say here I have developed the social skills that will allow me to position myself for a lot of opportunities.” says Bell.

“I absolutely feel that attending an HBCU helped me polish my business skills,” says Freeman. “HBCUs are nurturing environments where professors [work with students] one by one, iron out your flaws and work with you to achieve a common goal.”

Contact information for A.Y.O:


Twitter:, and the founders can be found on Twitter as well:  @Kafele_06, @AVONDO, and @slay1906