Zahni is from East Orange, New Jersey and will be attending Morehouse College to major in Cinema, Television, and Emerging Media Studies. Our conversation with Zahni was inspiring as he spoke to us with incredible transparency and depth. He asked us questions that required the same from us which was unique among any interviews we have ever done. Housing insecurity was part of his experiences growing up and rather than allowing that to negatively impact his academic life he was fueled to persevere academically. His AP History teacher described him as “one of the most resilient students” she has ever had. Zahni’s goal at Morehouse is to join his fellow students in “pushing the boundaries of education” and to join the highest ranks of exceptional Black filmmakers such as Spike Lee, Jordan Peele, or Ava DuVernay. We believe deeply in his talents and can’t wait to have a front row seat on his path to the top.
Lindsay is from Novi, Michigan and will be attending Spelman College in Atlanta majoring in Health Sciences. Her essay was one of the top essays we’ve ever received, and her soft-spoken manner belies a deep passion to leave a profound impact on the world. From a family with a deep commitment to education, Lindsay has been one of the few Black students in her class throughout her education journey. At a minimum, this resulted in relating to some students only on a surface level but at its worst had her withhold her experiences with prejudiced teachers or students. In response, Lindsay co-founded the Black Student Alliance at Novi High School which allowed her to become a role model and created safe spaces for students to share similar experiences. The BSA has developed programs to celebrate Black culture, uplift Black voices and solve helps solves discriminatory issues at her high school. Most importantly, she “established a forum that will continue serving and supporting Black students long after” she graduates. We loved her passion for pursuing an HBCU education, and specifically Spelman because it is “a top producer of black women in STEM fields” where she can be part of “a prestigious academic community and sisterhood of intellectual women leaders.” Congratulations to Lindsay, we are so proud to support you.
Trevor is the winner of the first Travelers Insurance HBCU Scholarship through Trajectory Foundation. Trevor is from Philadelphia, PA and plans to major in Computer Science with a concentration in Software Engineering at North Carolina Central University where she looks forward to studying at a college that enhances a sense of community and support both academically and socially. Trevor’s smile and confidence blew us away in our discussion with her. She was fortunate to have a 4th grade teacher who realized that she was not an careless student but instead recognized that she had learning disorders which were diagnosed to be dyslexia and dyscalculia. With additional resources and fierce determination Trevor has thrived. She attended STEM workshops offered in her city and became a Teen Advisory Board Member and a volunteer Lead STEM instructor for the non-profit organization TechGirlz. She has programmed her own motion sensor using Arduino, is versed in using 3D printers and became active in Girls in Aviation, the Civil Air Patrol and an Exelon STEM Ambassador. Her lessons in courage came from her mom who worked two and three jobs to makes ends meet, while volunteering extensively in her community including turning their basement into a pantry to provide free food to neighbors during the pandemic. Trevor has an unbelievably bright future ahead and both Travelers Insurance and Trajectory Foundation are proud to support her college journey.
Willayja is from Miami, Florida and is on her way to Florida A&M to study Biology. She was President of the Black Student Union at Dr. Krop Senior High School and is excited to attend an HBCU where there is, “An environment of students and faculty who look like me and have similar experiences to mine.” Willayja has seen courageousness firsthand watching her Nana advocate against gun violence after her grandfather was shot and murdered. Being the daughter of a teenage mother with bipolar disorder and a father who was incarcerated, Willayja could have struggled in school and out of school. But she has always refused to give up and pushed through to have a 3.7GPA and also became an Honor student. She aspires to develop programs and trials to help patients and families effectively deal with bipolar disorder. She is an active volunteer in her community, and she wants to encourage youth to “communicate and engage with mental health professionals to express the pressures and feelings of coping and surviving during mental health challenges.” This a kind, yet tenacious young woman that we are proud to support in her college experience at FAMU.
“We often let things feel so big that we allow our inability to do everything undermine our determination to do something.”