18-Year-Old Graduates Howard Summa Cum Laude And Debt Free
“If you get a bad grade, that’s on you[.] [You] can’t do the things you want in life with bad grades.” These were the words that resonated with Nadiya Blair and inspired her to excellence. When most 18-year-olds are graduating from high school, Blair has just graduated Summa Cum Laude from Howard University, and absolutely debt free. Any of those statements, on their own, are outstanding. 18-year-old graduates from college. Student graduates from university Summa Cum Laude. Graduate matriculates through college with absolutely no debt. Student graduates from Howard University in just two years. These are the impressive feats that have resulted from Blair’s successful strides to excellence. In high school, Blair took advantage of a program offered in conjunction with San Jacinto College that allowed her to earn her associate’s degree simultaneously with her high school diploma. From there, she forged her own path and was accepted into Howard University with junior status, straight out of high school.
In an interview, Blair told the Defender Network that perseverance was the key to graduating debt free. She diligently worked to keep her grades up and strived for academic excellence. Although she received a full scholarship from Howard University, it only covered tuition. With rising costs in housing, board, books and additional academic expenses she made sure not to turn away from small monetary scholarships. When many students spent the majority of their time applying for big ticket scholarships in the thousands, Blair did not ignore those that totaled $100 or $300.
She described her philosophy in the interview, “my number one tip is don’t snub your nose at small scholarships. I spent a lot of time going after $100, $300, $500 scholarships because they add up. Everybody wants to apply for the big 10, 50 grand. Those scholarships are fantastic, but it’s easier to get the smaller ones. Take a weekend and just dedicate time to applying for as many small scholarships as possible. You may not get them all. But if you keep persevering, it will work.”
Her words of wisdom do not stop there. As a college student who entered her senior year during the pandemic, Blair said she had to carry on without the on-campus resources and support system she had grown accustomed to during her junior year. She was thankful and blessed to lean on her family for support.
She says keeping her head up was one of the things that helped her get through her senior year, during the pandemic. It helped her stay committed to writing her 40-page thesis on the tools used by administrators to systematically keep Black girls out of school and hence keeping them from being educated at the same rate as their peers. Tools she sited included suspensions, expulsions and the like. This topic proved to be a passionate one for Blair. It has sparked an interest in pursuing a master’s in public policy and social work. Blair’s ultimate goal is to create a nonprofit that helps marginalized youth, especially those incarcerated and in foster care. She would like to help prepare them for college and provide professional development and training to help them be successful in life.
Watch the full interview below.