My academic journey began in 2011 when I enrolled at Delaware Technical and Community College in hopes to earn a few credits and transfer to pharmacy school. I worked full time and had a baby while at DTCC. I graduated with an A.A.S. in Biological Sciences with honors in 2016 after a brief hiatus to enjoy motherhood. After studying for the Pharmacy College Admissions Test but not scoring as high as I’d hoped, I felt defeated but still leaned on faith and applied to Temple University School of Pharmacy. I am now a Doctor of Pharmacy Candidate at TUSP for the class of 2020. With my PharmD degree, I am looking forward to reaching out to girls like me to let them know it is not how long the race but getting to finish line that counts. Being a full time wife, mother, worker and student puts a lot of pressure on me to be great in all aspects of life. Nevertheless, with God, my family and faith all things are possible!
I always knew that I would attend college, I wanted to be like my older sister Lori who graduated from Lincoln University when I was nine years old. I remember her graduation day vividly and for years fantasized about the moment that I too would take the stage and shout “I did it”! I envisioned it all…the flip of my tassel, my wave to the crowd, and my family squealing with joy; all of these actions coupled with my power pose would affirm the message that my mother engrained in her children that we could achieve whatever we wanted as long as we tried and worked hard.
When it came time to apply for college my guidance counselor instead suggested that I pursue work as a secretary and informed me that everyone is not college material, she also reminded me that it would be too challenging for my mother to afford sending twins to college considering we already lived in the projects and that it would not be fair to burden her with such stress. I also remember that day vividly and sitting down with my mother explaining to her what occurred at the meeting. I thought that my time spent with my guidance counselor would be encouraging but it was instead deflating. Over the course of a few weeks my mother assisted me with completing 13 college applications; the Director of an afterschool program in my neighborhood took time out of her schedule to read and critique my essays. I felt an incredible amount of support from my family in total and from members in our small community. Week after week I received acceptance letters, and after all was said and done, I was accepted to all of the colleges that I applied for. My family was proud, and so was my community.
In 1998 my twin sister and I were awarded the first academic scholarship offered by our housing authority and we triumphed in dispelling the myth that circumstances limit your growth. From that point forward I committed myself to advocating for access to quality educational experiences and opportunities; it is a right that we all deserve whether we live in a mansion or in a slum and no person or obstacle should stand in your way.
Zakia W. Johnson
Director of Testing & Campus Wide Diversity Committee Co-Chair at Howard Community College
My passion for higher education administration stems from my experience as a first generation, Black, female student. I am a former military brat whose parents did not obtain their degrees. However, they instilled in me the importance of education. So, as an alum of Upward Bound and Student Support Services at the University of Delaware, I was exposed to higher education at a very young age. However, during my first year at the University of Delaware I struggled significantly and was told by an advisor that I wouldn’t make it. From that experience, I was humbled and challenged to excel.
I have been committed to providing support to those who experience similar adversity. I also became very active due to my ability to manage my responsibilities. I worked as an RA, Hall Director, and professional administrator at UD. I also received both my Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree from UD (BA in Criminal Justice, M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration). Because of my amazing experience at the University of Delaware, I decided to pursue a career in higher education. I love the ability to advocate for students and lead others who want to do the same. I am currently working as the Director of Testing at Howard Community College and I am pursuing my doctorate degree in Higher Education Administration at Morgan State University.