The college access and success field is old enough that classes of students we’ve supported have graduated and are now creating the change we want to see in the world. As NCAN marks 25 years of progress in the effort to close equity gaps in higher education, our Alumni Spotlight series will feature the stories of outstanding alumni who have come through our member organizations over the years.
At a time such as this, we believe it’s still important to share the success stories of the students our members serve. We hope you enjoy the series and this week’s alumni.
Zachary Lane’s mother and stepfather always stressed the importance of education. Although neither of them attended college, they reminded Zachary that no one could ever take his education from him.
Following in his older brother’s footsteps, Zachary joined Partnership for the Future and took advantage of all PFF had to offer, including an internship with the McGuireWoods law firm for three summers. PFF awarded Zachary with the Horatio Alger Scholarship, which supported him through college. Although his stepfather and mother both passed away while he was in high school, Zachary went on to James Madison University and the University of Memphis for his B.S. and M.S., respectively.
Read more about Zachary’s story below.
Tell us a story of how a mentor or counselor helped you on your journey to earn your postsecondary degree/credential.
My high school guidance counselor (Mr. Marvin Jones Sr.) really gave me the tools and insight necessary to pursue a postsecondary degree. I was going to be a first-generation college student so I did not have a true living example of what the college experience was going to be like. However, Mr. Jones really mapped out what I could expect when I got to college. In addition, once I was enrolled in college, I stayed in touch with Mr. Jones along the way to get advice and support.
I still stay in touch with Mr. Jones to this day.
As a student, what hurdles did you face while getting your postsecondary degree/credential?
The biggest hurdle for me was finances. I did receive a lot of financial aid and assistance, but I was always thinking about how I would pay for things such as books, groceries, social events, etc. I wanted to experience different things along my college journey, but I had to prioritize certain things due to finances.
Another hurdle was dealing with the loss of my parents. I lost both of my parents in high school so when I got to college, I was dealing with the grief of that.
Why was it important for you to get your postsecondary degree/credential?
It was important for me to get a postsecondary degree because my mother always emphasized the importance of an education. Even though she did not go to college, she always encouraged me to pursue a college degree. When she passed away, I vowed to graduate from college because I knew that would make her proud.
What inspires you to work in your field?
I am in the midst of a career transition into the accounting space. I have not worked in this space before so it is a huge pivot for me. But, I am interested in transitioning into the accounting space because I have always had a strong acumen for numbers. In addition, I enjoy budgeting and handling money. I think that accounting will allow me to utilize these skill sets. In addition, accounting has a lot of various opportunities.
In light of COVID-19, it’s important for students to hear words of encouragement from those who were in their shoes not long ago. What advice would you give to students right now?
The biggest advice I would give is to always work hard when pursuing your dreams. In addition, failure is okay. It is a learning opportunity. Lastly, keep the faith because with God all things are possible.