Cradle-to-College Pipeline: Complete

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Drew Charter School graduate Nazjaa Hughson

This blog post is part of our celebration of charter school graduates across the country and their achievements. Join us in celebrating our #CharterGrads!

Waking up and travelling to the same place for nearly half your life can allow you to find a constant routine. Since I was in kindergarten, the East Lake Community in Georgia has welcomed me into its ever-growing environment. With my school at the center of a once broken and crime-stricken area, I have witnessed community revitalization that has allowed me to thrive.

My name is Nazjaa Hughson and I have been a student at Charles R. Drew Charter School since kindergarten. On May 18th, I completed the “Cradle to College” pipeline, as a student in my school’s third graduating class. Since 2005, the safety and structure I have been afforded has allowed me to become a high-achieving minority student. The opportunity to attend one school from cradle-to-college has been a privilege that I hope many will take advantage of. Thankfully, through the “Purpose Built Schools” organization, more schools in Atlanta will now have the ability to provide the same educational opportunities for students and families.

Drew serves as the model of success, as we represent how low-income, African American students can exceed expectations if given the proper resources.

As I look back on graduation, I begin to reflect on my time at Drew Charter School. The memories I have made and the people I’ve met along the way have helped shape me. My class and I are prepared to head our separate ways, but I think we can all agree that Drew has made a positive impact on each of us. In the past, we would gripe about attending a small charter school that seemed untraditional, but we’ve grown to appreciate the benefits of being in this close-knit community. The support I have received from teachers, classmates, and staff has been the driving factor behind all of my success.

Drew’s College and Career Readiness Team is undoubtedly the best resource for us as students. Through their guidance and support, we’ve been able to break barriers among Atlanta Public Schools (APS). Drew Charter has the highest graduation rate of all APS schools and, this year, the class of 2019 has earned over $12 million in scholarshipsthe highest in Drew history. I am extremely proud of my classmates and myself, but most importantly, I am grateful. I am grateful for the opportunity to attend a charter school that has afforded me a quality education and amazing resources. I am appreciative for the teachers that invested in my education; and I am thankful for the one-of-a-kind experience I’ve had at my charter school.

As I transition to Stanford University, I’ll carry all the qualities that Drew has instilled in me. If I could leave a few words of advice to future graduates, I would say “Seize every opportunity and never be a victim of circumstance.

Opportunities don’t just happen. You have to create them for yourself and for others. Don’t be afraid to change your community for the better and set new paths for others to follow.

My time at Drew Charter School has taught me many things, but the most important is to remember where you came from and how that has impacted you today.


Nazjaa Hughson will attend Stanford University in the fall. She is a 2019 graduate of Charles R. Drew Charter School.


[Click-to-Tweet] Congratulations to @drewcharter graduate Nazjaa Hughson and best of luck at @Stanford this fall! #CharterGrads

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