This month’s Community Spotlight features Zariyah, a sophomore at Memorial High School. She may be relatively new to the LCEC, but she’s already making a name for herself.   

A middle child with 9 siblings, Zariyah was raised a happy kid right here in Madison. Growing up she was unendingly energetic, staying busy dancing in her kitchen or playing with her toys. Ever the creative spirit, Zariyah spent her childhood immersed in her imagination.

“With my toys, I had a whole world in my head,” she says. “My imagination was crazy.”

Whenever she found herself with spare time, she kept her eyes open for opportunities to make extra cash. “I was always trying to make some money, so I was figuring out different crafts I could sell,” she explains. “Mostly it was keychains I made, but I sold anything I could get my hands on.”

Zariyah was a self-starter from a young age. At 8 years old she taught herself how to dance by watching Youtube videos online and practicing her moves in front of her kitchen wall, carefully scrutinizing her shadow until she got them right. She moved on to drawing as she got older, and she’s even taught herself how to skateboard. “One day I was on Youtube,” she shares, “and a video of a girl popped up that was her learning how to skateboard in 30 days. That really inspired me to learn. So that’s where it started. I’m a girl, too, so I was so geeked to see her. I’m not THAT good but I can almost heel flip and then I’ve got an ollie, so that’s decent.”

Now Zariyah’s artistic outlets are found in her paintings and her hair braiding side business. “I grew up watching my mom braid me and my sisters’ hair, and about two years ago I learned how to do it. It’s like a side hustle. I started doing feed-ins, then started doing my family, and now doing whoever wants to book. I learned all on my own after watching my mom.”

Since being accepted into the Jane Burrows Buffett Scholars program, LCEC staff are getting to know Zariyah better each day. Most applicants already have a relationship with the LCEC, but Zariyah’s materials and story stood out, and we are happy she’s in the program.

“I didn’t know Zariyah super well when she was welcomed on as a Buffett Scholar,” notes LCEC’s Youth Programs Manager Julia Robles.

“Her recommendations, however, painted a picture of a young woman pushing herself to do better in school and being an active member in clubs at Jefferson, and we knew she would bring a great energy into the Lussier space.”

Zariyah has become a well-known face in the building. She participates in as many clubs as she can and makes an impact on those around her.

“Zariyah is a true entrepreneur and amazing at utilizing her artistic skills,” Julia continues. “She doesn’t hesitate to learn new things or practice her skills to get better. She is always willing to jump into a discussion, share her ideas, and encourage others to do the same. I am excited to have Zariyah as a Buffett Scholar and to support her in reaching her goals.”

After high school Zariyah hopes to attend a trade school to learn to become a plumber.

No one here at the LCEC has any doubt that she will achieve whatever she sets her mind to. Welcome to the Lussier Community Education Center, Zariyah, and thank you for sharing yourself with us.