Zapouria Wadley, a senior at Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy, has been awarded the Reuben Strickland Memorial Scholarship, as well as the top scholarship from the Comcast Foundation.
She plans to attend Mississippi Valley State University in the fall, where she was given a Presidential Academic Scholarship, which pays for most of her educational expenses.
“I decided to attend an HBCU (historically black colleges and universities) because I absolutely love my culture, and I want to be somewhere where I am surrounded by people who look like me and are also striving to be successful just like I am,” says Wadley, who plans to major in broadcast journalism.
“I feel as though there are so many things that I still don’t know about my culture’s history as an African-American female, and I feel that an HBCU will be the right place for me to learn more about my roots and where I came from.”
She adds, “Plus, one of my former teachers attended, and she always exhibited so much pride in being an alumni of MVSU.”
Wadley received $2,500 from the Comcast Foundation, through its annual Leaders and Achievers Scholarship Program–high school students who have been selected for their outstanding community service, academic performance and leadership skills.
In addition, Wadley was awarded $1,000 from the Reuben Strickland Memorial Scholarship Fund, established in 2008 to provide financial assistance to selected graduating seniors based on their academic performance, community involvement and financial need.
She says she’s also “waiting to hear back from several other scholarships, including ones through the Community Foundation and ones from various sororities.”
Passionate about academics and her future career, as well as staying connected with her circle of family and friends, Wadley shares, “I have always loved being on camera, and I also love meeting new people and communicating with others. I just knew that broadcast journalism would be the right career for me, as I will be able to exercise my strength of public speaking.”
Wadley says she’s grateful to have local news anchor Greg Funderburg as one of her mentors.
“I have job shadowed with Mr. Funderburg twice,” she says. “During this time, I was able to observe the news anchors while on air, meet news personnel in different departments of the station, and have one-on-one conversations with them about their individual paths and how they got to where they are. Which was very beneficial.”
Wadley reveals that nothing will diminish the overall joy and inspiration she has experienced during her last year at CGLA; however, she reluctantly admits to being a little disappointed by having to give up seeing her friends at school and to missing the extracurricular activities associated with being a senior, while schools remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The coronavirus pandemic has no doubt negatively impacted my senior year as I, along with my peers, have not been able to enjoy the fun traditions that are a part of senior year–such as prom and a lock-in that we had planned,” she says. “However, I have been able to handle the drastic change pretty well. I’m using this time to finish my senior year strong and prepare myself mentally for the next stage of my life, which is college.”
As for Wadley’s summer plans?
“If this pandemic passes over before the summer, I plan to do an internship at either a radio station or a news station, get a part-time job, and spend lots of time with my family before I leave for college,” she says.
After college graduation, Wadley plans to work a year as an entry-level reporter at a small news station, followed by service in the military. Her goal is to obtain a master’s degree in clinical psychology, as she is “passionate about mental health.”
Her parents are Sharon and Tedarrell Wadley Sr. of Chattanooga.