14-year-old Returns to Summer Learning Program as Volunteer

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My name is Zenniah Davis, I am 14 years old, and I am a recent alumna of Higher Achievement. As a Higher Achievement scholar I had the opportunity to emcee numerous events, serve as a tour guide to potential funders, get elected as the Ambassador to the Ward 7 Achievement Center, and most recently, to serve as one of speakers at Higher Achievement’s 2009 graduation. These were all great accomplishments, but surprisingly, it wasn’t the academics, leadership or any of the things mentioned above that I was MOST proud of. I was MOST proud of the sense of community that Higher Achievement instilled in me.

It’s that same sense of family and community that brought me back to the program just months after I graduated. Without the influence and encouragement of my Higher Achievement community, I would not have been confident enough to take advantage of all the opportunities that the program has afforded me. This year alone, I’ve matured in ways that I never would have before, and I am proud to say that I am back to return the favor, and see to it that the scholars who follow me have a similar story to tell.

I am volunteering at the Ward 7 Achievement Center because I feel that it’s my duty to give back to the people who helped me get where I am and where I am going in the future. The reason I got into my school and received so many scholarships was because of Higher Achievement. Not to mention that I miss the people who made such a big difference in my life. I bring sincere excitement and respect to my role of volunteer intern – I’m excited to be given yet another opportunity to set a positive example, and I respect that like me, all of these scholars are ready and eager to make the best of their lives. I want to show scholars that it’s ok to be cool and smart and still be your own person. I want them to see that where you’re from doesn’t determine where you’re going.

Higher Achievement has brought me full circle. When I was a scholar, we held each other accountable when things weren’t going the Higher Achievement way, and demanded a level of excellence that others may have doubted. As a Higher Achievement staff person, I am proud to say that those standards have not, and will not waiver when it comes to my expectations – both of myself, and of the Higher Achievement scholars that I currently work with. At Higher Achievement, we learned to love and care about ourselves and our fellow scholars. Here, we learned to be a community that looks out for each other.

At Higher Achievement I watched my classmates develop into ambitious, determined, confident young people, and at the end of the summer, I’ll take pride in knowing that I helped the scholars after me do the same.

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