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2020 MI Charter Grad feature: 

#MiCharterGrad19: Zahraa Cherkaoui

We set out to interview real, Michigan charter school graduating seniors to uncover why they LOVE their school, how it helped prepare them for their next steps, and where their path leads next! Check out our interview with 2020 grad, Diamond Coleman! 

Q1 - How did you make your way to Universal Learning Academy? 

I have been a student at Universal Learning Academy (ULA) since I was in kindergarten. I have experienced first-hand how a strong school community can build character. There is never a dull moment at ULA. The motivated and inspired staff have made my learning experience one that I will remember forever. Whether it is academics or extracurricular activities, the staff always puts everything they can into what they do. Seeing the effort they put forward motivated me, not only as a student, but as an active member of our school’s community. Fundraisers, athletics, clubs, and committees, it did not matter what it was, I wanted to be a part of it. ULA offers many academic opportunities such as A.P. courses and dual enrollment. Going into my junior year I was driven to be a part of both of these programs, and I am not afraid to admit it was a struggle when I first started. Balancing my classes, which now included these advanced programs, continuing to support all school activities, and having a part-time job outside of school was not something that came easy. ULA helped me learn how to take responsibility for everything I do and prioritize my time. This school has shaped me into who I am today and for that I will be forever grateful.

Q2 - What are your favorite school subjects/extracurriculars? 

Starting my freshman year I became heavily involved in Student Government. I was Class President my first two years and in my junior year I was able to take on the position of Student Government President. These roles were especially important to me; they taught me what it takes to be a strong leader. Additionally, I have played basketball for ULA since I was in seventh grade. My passion and love for the sport grew on me as I continued throughout middle and high school. My sophomore year I was added in the MHSAA Individual Girls Basketball Record Book for scoring 47 points in a single game. It was in this moment that being a part of ULA basketball became so much more to me than just playing a sport. Knowing that I had such a strong school community behind me the entire time made everything worth it. As much as I have enjoyed the game, I have made the hard decision that continuing to play basketball will not be a part of my future. I do plan, however, to take my talent and focus on teaching others. I am hoping I will be able to coach basketball at some point in my future so I can instill in others that same love for the game that ULA has taught me.

Q3 - Tell us about an educator who's inspired you!

I have learned so much from many of the amazing staff members at ULA, however Ms. Scott is the one teacher that has inspired me and kept me driven throughout my high school career. Ms. Scott stepped in as our basketball coach my sophomore year when she saw we did not have anyone, and we were at risk of not having a season. Ms. Scott is a first-grade teacher at ULA, who had no experience in basketball or in coaching, but that did not stop her. She pushed myself and my teammates to be the best we could be, and it was her passion and determination that motivated me. Ms. Scott’s passion does not stop with just basketball; she leads ULA’s Spirit Committee, she plans pep rallies, spirit weeks, and is involved in every fundraiser we have. I have learned the importance of what it means to be a part of a school community from her. I know I am not the only student at ULA who has been positively impacted by Ms. Scott; she has become an important leader in the lives of many other students. Ms. Scott has helped me in becoming the person I am today, and I will forever be grateful for everything she has taught me.

Q4 - Where are you headed next?
After high school I plan to attend Wayne State University on a full-ride academic scholarship. I plan to major in Kinesiology and become a physical therapist with the goal to one day open my own clinic. I strongly believe ULA has given me all the tools I will need to be a successful college student. It has taught me that things will not come easy and that it takes hard work and responsibility to achieve your goals. ULA has shown me what it takes to be a leader and I am confident that the lessons I have learned from attending such a strong school will stick with me for the rest of my life.
Q5 - What's your favorite high school memory?!
There will be many moments from ULA that I will always remember, but I do not think anything will stick with me more than my Senior Night for basketball. On this night I was recognized for breaking the HES all-time scoring record. My family cheering me on in the stands, my teammates shooting off confetti cannons, and the support I was given by not only the ULA school community, but also from our sister school SIA who was our opponent in that night’s game, will forever make that the most memorable night at ULA. I am thankful for the efforts that our school’s administration and athletic department put forward to make my senior night as special as possible. It is times like these where I truly realize that everything this school community has done for me has molded me into the person I am today. I will forever appreciate every opportunity I was able to experience at Universal Learning Academy.
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Grad Profile: Zahraa Cherkaoui

School: Universal Learning Academy 

Next adventure: Wayne State University 

Dreams & goals: Study Kinesiology & eventually become a physical therapist with her own practice!

See other outstanding 2020 #MiCharterGrads!

See what they've done so far & where they're going!
Discover our 2020 grads!