Fathia: Learning to take charge

Scholar Ambassador

“Before I became part of Pathways, I was really lost in the college process.”

“Mentoring is something that is within me,” is how Fathia, a Pathways to College Scholar, describes her rapidly developing leadership style.

She continues, “It’s a good way to interact with people, and in Pathways, it’s the way older students and teachers gave me information about applying to colleges when I started in the program. I’d like to help freshmen and sophomores get that information.”

Fathia’s desire, commitment, and willingness to lead are the exact qualities Pathways is actively mining from its rich vein of Scholars, to create a team of Scholar Ambassadors. The senior, who originally hails from Lagos, Nigeria, will help in recruiting peers at her school, leading in various ways, and representing the organization as part of its ongoing campaigns.

“She is brilliant and well-spoken,” says Pathways to College National Program Director Dr. Nefertari Nkenge, who identified Fathia as a potential match for the Scholar Ambassadorship. “She has great ideas for the ways she can leverage her new leadership role, to attract a minimum of five to ten of her peers to enroll in the program.”

Fathia says she plans to amplify the opportunities Pathways provides for improving life skills as a major selling point to schoolmates.

“Being in Pathways allows you to learn many different things that aren’t part of typical high school life,” she says. “But it’s also a chance to familiarize yourself with things you’ll need in your high school career, like skills to do well in college prep classes.”

Fathia moved to New Jersey after originally immigrating to Columbia, Maryland. When she applied to Pathways, the world was still reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic. During this challenging time, she was hoping to learn about the college application process.

“Before I became part of Pathways, I was really lost in the college process and didn’t have anyone to guide me through the experience,” Fathia recalls. “Then I talked to the Pathways teachers and saw how they helped the Scholars and how the Scholars helped each other. Pathways really helps with researching colleges and really cut down on my time in terms of applying, so that’ll make things easier for me in senior year. I thought a college application essay would be easy to write, but breaking it down in Pathways sessions, I realized it’s something you have to really take your time with when you write it.”

As she works on crafting her words, Fathia has set her sights on attending Boston University and enrolling in that school’s pre-med science program. She’s coming off a medical-related summer internship and is leaning toward dermatology as her academic focus.

“That’s a specialty that has lots of interesting procedures,” Fathia says. “It allows people to have a certain freedom in practicing it and create work-life balance.”

She also has a keen interest in studying abroad. Because of Fathia’s fascination with and love for K-Pop music and K-Drama TV shows, a semester or year of schooling in South Korea, in which she could more deeply study that country’s language and culture, is on her radar.

That intellectual curiosity, plus embracing the mindset of being a citizen of the world—two additional essential qualities Pathways to College cultivates among Scholars—further makes Fathia an ideal choice as a Scholar Ambassador. So is her perseverance.

“COVID-19 actually shaped me into being a leader,” Fathia says. “The pandemic and then going to distance learning showed me how much can change so quickly. It also taught me to take charge of things. But I also learned to be approachable as a leader and to be flexible.”