From Times Square Yearbook To Seventeen Magazine

“She told us that being the only black or Latina student will be a challenge you will face the rest of your life so we had to seek out our support systems.”<br><br>

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It took a while for the news to sink in, but once high school senior Zaniya got over the shock of being invited to the White House, she immediately started screaming and jumping up and down. She was really headed to the White House to meet First Lady Michelle Obama. In person. In real life.

“I really thought it was a dream,” said Zaniya. “My parents did not believe me at first, but when they read the email they were so happy.”

Zaniya’s trip was the result of entering an essay contest hosted by Seventeen. She shared her personal experiences as an African American student at a predominately white private school. As she walked down the halls of the White House, she couldn’t help but think about all the things that led her to that very moment.

“I have always dreamed of meeting Michelle Obama,” Zaniya admits. “I started to think about all the times I stayed up completing assignments and looking for opportunities to help other people and how hard work really does pay off.”

As you can imagine, being in the White House was a bit intimidating. Luckily, FLOTUS had the perfect remedy to calm both Zaniya’s and fellow winner Gemma’s nerves.

“She gave us a hug and said ‘I got you guys!’” But it was when she started singing and dancing to Beyonce that Zaniya really felt she could relax. It was also nice to learn the First Lady could really relate to her life experiences as one of the only black faces in a room.

“She told us that being the only black or Latina student will be a challenge you will face the rest of your life so we had to seek out our support systems.”

Once she heads off to college, Zaniya hopes to reinvent herself on her campus. “I’m leaving my positions in most of the organizations I am a part of, but the exciting thing is that next fall, I will have the opportunity to find new organizations to be a part of and continue to make a difference in the world.”

If she could offer younger students some advice, she would tell them to start getting ready for college early. “Make sure to write your essays during the summer. I also encourage students to apply to as many scholarships as you can.” Get Schooled helped her stay motivated and she recommends students check out the articles, videos, and surveys, too.

We have to say, that’s some pretty solid advice. We wish Zaniya, and all the class of 2016 the best in college next year!