Zakiya James Civil Engineer

When I was in 6th grade my math teacher said to my mom, "I was  a very sweet girl, but not that smart." This was my first year in public school. My mom had always volunteered, acted as the school janitor or done whatever other job that was needed so I could attend a small Montessori school. Unfortunately they closed and I was left in what was thought to be a good school.  I had always been a pretty good  student, but there, I struggled and did not understand why.  
My mom was determined to get me out of that school.  She found another small private school that had scholarship money.  Again the deal was that she did a lot of volunteer work to keep me there.  This new school allowed me to thrive.  Believe it or not, my best subject became math. Like all good things, the money ran out and for 9th grade I was back in public school. It was shell shock all over again. The teachers were overwhelmed and I eased my way through. The joke in our house was my little brother had more homework than me.  My mom being that tiger wolf parent was not satisfied.  Probably because I was starting to drift into indifference.  
Next thing I know my mom signed me up to take a placement test at the University of the District of Columbia. I assumed I would just take the test and maybe take a course over the summer to appease my mother. I placed into freshman English and was accepted as a High Skip student. (High Skip is a program where you can take college courses while enrolled in high school). My mom being extra somehow managed to enroll me as a full time student. So at 14 I started college and never went back to high school. To manage tuition, my grandparents and other family and friends pitched in to cover the cost.  University of the District of Columbia Community College (UDC) was less expensive than private school so it worked out. 
Believe it or not I excelled at the community college and was able to transfer to the Flagship, UDC.  There I majored in Civil Engineering, made the Dean's List and got involved in student engineering clubs on campus. The summer of 2014 I was accepted into the prestigious REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) program at Duke University known as CEINT (Center for the Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology). It was a paid internship where I was able to spend 10 weeks living and working on Duke's campus. I successfully completed the program with great recommendations from my professor. 
After my experience at Duke, I knew I had to find a school that had more hands on research opportunities as part of their curriculum. I decided the best thing for me was to transfer to a university with more opportunities. I began my research and found a few schools with Spring admissions that I thought would be a perfect fit for me.  Applications were due in a month which gave me very little time to complete the applications. My first choice was Drexel University, in Philadelphia Pennsylvania and after one and half weeks of submitting my application, I got an email followed by an official letter of my acceptance. 
My hard work paid off and  all my transfer credits were accepted. So at 17 I  was classified as a junior studying Civil Engineering at a top notch university with $70K a year tuition cost. I did get a small scholarship from Drexel, but it is not nearly enough to cover the cost. Due to this short time period of my acceptance, my financial package has been delayed.  However,I took the leap of faith, paid my housing deposit and am halfway through my first quarter. I need your help with tuition cost for my first two quarters.  (Drexel is on a quarter system).

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Organizer and beneficiary

Zakiya James 
Organizer
Washington, DC
Shawna Malone 
Beneficiary
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