(Dallas – March 30, 2017) Z’Kijah Fleming from DeSoto, Texas, a Dallas suburb, is the winner of the 2017 Tom Joyner Foundation® “Full Ride Scholarship” that will cover full tuition, room and board (on-campus only) and books up to 10 semesters.
Fleming, who juggled taking care of her mom while she battled breast cancer and her 3-year-old brother at the time, plans to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C. where she plans to major in business, focusing on sports marketing to help teams raise their brand awareness and assist with major causes.
Tom Joyner, the Foundation’s chairman and founder, announced his scholarship today during the Tom Joyner Morning Show, which airs on 100 stations and reaches a broadcast and digital audience more than eight million listeners every week. Fleming is a graduating senior from the Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School, a STEM-focused curriculum that’s part of the Young Women’s Preparatory Network who was selected from hundreds of applicants from around the country for the scholarship.
Fleming is an AP Scholar, a Dallas Independent School District (DISD) Scholar, a member of the mock trial team, volunteers at the Dallas Life Homeless Shelter, volunteered with the Sisters Network Dallas, breast cancer walk, and during the past school year volunteered Ruby Young Elementary School’s community parade and school-wide performances. She also was the school-wide announcer and wrote for the school paper.
During her interview, Fleming recounted her courageous journey taking care of her mom during her freshman year when her mother, DeAndrea, began chemotherapy for breast cancer. Everyday for nearly a year, she went to the hospital with her mom, then after school, she made dinners of SpaghettiOs, microwave macaroni & cheese, boiled hot dogs and tuna sandwiches, for her three-year-old brother, Gavin. “Over time,” Fleming said, “Theater rehearsals were few and far between, while any other clubs simply became ideas of the past.” Her mom is now cancer-free. Fleming overcame the challenges. She has maintained a 4.0 cumulative GPA, earned a 1470 on the SAT and a 31 on the ACT.
Tom Joyner, host of the nationally syndicated morning radio show, said, “Z’Kijah is an amazing young lady. She not only took care of her mom while she was battling breast cancer, she also took care of her younger brother – and maintained a 4.0 grade point average. I’m tired just talking about it. I know she’s going to become an outstanding marketing executive.”
Vicki R. Reed, an educator with DISD, wrote in her recommendation, “Z’Kijah has remained determined and strong willed in her pursuit of her future endeavors. When faced with a challenge, Z’Kijah views her molehill not as a mountain, but as a chance to display what it means to become an innovator not just a leader.”
Fleming is our seventh Tom Joyner Foundation Full Ride Scholar. Previous winners include Morgan Brown, who is attending Spelman College in Atlanta, Ga., pursuing a career in psychiatry; JoAnn Jones who is attending Winston Salem State University in Winston Salem, N.C., pursuing a career in nursing; Titus Ziegler Jr. of Atlanta’s Inman Middle School who served as a commander of the elite Junior ROTC Color Guard and Cheyenne Boyce of Detroit’s Cass Technical High School, graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Spelman College in Atlanta and is currently a Fulbright Scholar in Malaysia where she is teaching English. Blaine Robertson of Reserve, La. is graduating from Howard University in Washington, D.C. with a B.S. in mathematics, a B.A. in history with a minor in secondary education. The first winner, Britney Wilson of Brooklyn, N.Y., recently passed the New York Bar. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and she graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Howard University. Ms. Wilson is working in the New York offices of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
To retain the scholarship, students had to meet the required academic standards each semester. Graduating high school seniors applied for the scholarship by going to BlackAmericaWeb.com. To be eligible, students had to meet the following criteria: 1) Be a United States citizen; 2) Be a current high school senior attending school in the United States. Each applicant must complete high school in the spring of 2017; 3) Have a minimum high school grade point average of 3.5 (on a 4.0 grade scale, excluding home school studies) and minimum SAT score of 1400 (combined math essay and verbal score) or ACT score of 30; 4) Applicants had to apply and be accepted to an HBCU by July 1, 2017; 5.) Applicants must have demonstrated leadership abilities through participation in community service and extracurricular activities.
Founded in 1998, the Tom Joyner Foundation has raised more than $65 million to help keep students enrolled in black colleges. It has assisted more than 29,000 students and worked with more than 100 HBCUs. To learn more about the Foundation, go to TomJoynerFoundation.org.