Recent graduate and Buffett Scholar Jeniya has been coming to the LCEC since before she was old enough to participate in Center programs. As she takes her first steps toward her future as a college freshman this fall, we thought we’d reminisce over her time here at the Center.

Jeniya joined the Center as a young elementary student, and spent years in the afterschool and summer programs. She recalls the best part of elementary programming was going to the garden; during the summer she loved swimming; and as a high school student she loved attending a Milwaukee Bucks basketball game. 

My favorite memory was when we went to the community garden. That was the first time I ever went to a garden… I liked picking the plants and just being in the garden and cooking with them. Actually cooking with food that was grown in the garden rather than being bought at the store.”

Throughout her high school career, Jeniya worked hard to stay on track for the future she wanted. Her ambitions got extra support when she was selected as a Jane Burrows Buffett Scholar in her freshman year. Jeniya recalls, “I remember when we first started, [Lussier staff] were helping me get in contact with social workers and nurses. I was getting help with that so I could see if I really wanted to go into those fields.” 

As a junior, Jeniya applied to participate in the Early College STEM Academy, a partnership between the Madison Metropolitan School District and Madison College that aims to open access to college courses in science, technology, engineering, and math at no cost to students or their families. Due to her impressive GPA and high attendance record, Jeniya was accepted and spent the entirety of her junior and senior years at Madison College

With her final year turned upside down due to COVID, Jeniya reports that the past school year had been difficult. “It’s kind of harder for me because I don’t like learning online for most of my classes.” As a high school student attending college classes entirely online, Jeniya still ended her year with a GPA above a 3.0, a feat our Buffett Scholar Coordinator Lisbeth is incredibly proud of her for. “She was always asking ‘When can I come next?’. She always put in her best effort, even meeting between classes and after she’d been at work.”

Through the Buffett Scholars program, Jeniya was able to get one-on-one academic support to help her tackle online learning and cover costs like college applications and supplies for her dorm. “It means a lot to me,” Jeniya says. “It means that since y’all gave me the scholarship that y’all believed in me, that you saw the stuff I want to do and y’all support me. Without it I probably wouldn’t be able to pay for most of the stuff I need.”

After a successful high school career, Jeniya is happy to announce that she is attending Clark Atlanta University. “I got into a lot of other schools,” she notes, “but the reason I chose Clark Atlanta is because it would be easier for me to transition. I have family there… I’m just excited to leave. I’m ready to go somewhere else.” 

When asked to share one last thing, Jeniya said, “I just want people to know that – specifically the kids that come to Lussier – use your resources. [Lussier] has helped me a lot. They’ll help you with anything you want or need to get done. They’re really supportive of anything you want to do.”

Congratulations, Jeniya, on your many accomplishments, and best of luck at CAU!