Scholar Spotlight: Zen

8th-grade scholar Zen is a leader and a role model at Higher Achievement’s Ward 7 Achievement Center. “Ms. Radiya counts on us to help the younger scholars. They see us as role models, and it feels good to see them prosper,” says Zen. Higher Achievement encourages scholars like Zen to step into leadership and use their voice at Center. 

Zen’s older sister, an alumna of Higher Achievement, first introduced her to the program. “I like that it gets me out of the house, and that I get to make new friends and socialize at Higher Achievement,” says Zen. She credits the group activities at Higher Achievement with helping her to build confidence and the social skills that she looks forward to applying in high school.  

Over the past several months, Zen has been preparing for the transition to high school, beginning with identifying and applying to her top choice schools. “I ended up going to Ms. Radiya at Higher Achievement for help, because she wasn’t pressuring me to go to a school I didn’t want to go to.” Zen’s top choice is Benjamin Banneker Academic High School, where she hopes to pursue their step program and explore computer science and engineering in her classes. 

Zen has remained focused and resilient throughout the challenges of her middle school years. “At times on my progress report, I would be getting C or C- and it didn’t sit right with me. I was disappointed in myself, but I texted teachers about extra credit and pushed myself to do the work,” says Zen. “It wasn’t the best year for me, but I was motivating myself when I had a bad grade.” Zen’s ability to problem solve and persevere are lifelong skills that will benefit her throughout high school and beyond.  

Higher Achievement scholars like Zen are talented and driven, we are proud to support them as they define and pursue their best selves.