Tempe, AZ – Ahjahna (AWE-juh-nay) Graham is planning on using her college education to become an advocate for education policy that will help young people from low income circumstances, get their own college education.
Ahjahna explains, “The goal right now is to go to law school and study civil law, after I complete my undergraduate degree in political science. But my heart’s desire is to build my own nonprofit for low income students who can’t afford higher education. Being raised by a single-mother, and not having a lot of money to pay for college, has given me the desire to help and mentor young people in similar circumstances. I’m very passionate about the issue of education, and I definitely believe that the education system here in Arizona is not that great. So with political science, it definitely helps me stay on my toes, and do my research and get involved, to help resolve those issues here in Arizona.”
Ahjahna, age 19, was born in Norfolk, Virginia to a military family that lived in several states before settling in Arizona. She graduated from Westview High School in Avondale, Arizona and is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science at Arizona State University.
Ahjahna says her course of study has helped her to find her voice, “I feel that political science has really taught me how to speak up, and has given me the ability to stay open-minded, and listen to other peoples’ perspectives. It’s also helped me learn how to do research on my own, and then articulate and present my opinion on my own.”
Meanwhile, Ahjahna is gaining experience in the nonprofit sector by volunteering with the ASU Foundation’s Tell-A-Devil Network, which raises money for the university, “I definitely enjoy working there because it relates to my minor. It’s specifically a foundation that fundraises for all of the colleges throughout ASU. So basically, we are a call center and we talk to prospects and alumni, who have already graduated, or people who are affiliated with ASU in any way.”
Ahjahna adds that her college experience is being made easier with the guidance of Robert Davis, her ‘Success Adviser,’ provided by College Success Arizona, as part of the scholarship she earned from the organization, “Robert is absolutely amazing! Oh my goodness – I love seeing him, because every time that we talk we are literally laughing the whole time. It’s really cool because he’s a graduate from ASU, and he was also a Global Studies major, which is part of the same department as political science. So, a lot of the classes he took, and some of the professors he had are still on staff, so I have a lot in common with his college experience. Overall, I just love how I can always talk to Robert about anything and everything.”
In addition to a success adviser, the scholarship also provides hardworking students like Ahjahna, up to six-thousand dollars per year for educational expenses:
“It has helped me a lot. Getting this scholarship has definitely lifted a huge weight off of my shoulders, and I’m thankful for it all of the time. I always make sure to keep my grades up to date, and keep on fulfilling the requirements to maintain the scholarship, because that six-thousand dollars is truly helpful, and I have no idea where I would be without it.”
In addition to her studies, Ahjahna is an alumnus of, and mentor for ASU’s Early Start Program, which helps to prepare new students for college life, “It’s a two-week program that is offered through the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. It allows incoming freshmen to move in two weeks before the fall semester starts. The students get to do activities related to their course of study, and learn what it’s like to be on campus.”
Ahjahna has some advice for middle and high school students considering their own college options, “I would have to say that there’s no wall that’s big enough that you can’t crash down, and overcome. In my life, I had a lot of walls and things that I had to overcome, and face, to get here. If you keep pushing and just asking for help, and if you want it bad enough, you will get it.”
Since 2005, College Success Arizona has worked with nearly 1,300 students, and provided more than 16 million dollars in scholarships and success services to help increase the college attainment rate in Arizona. If you would like to be part of the mission of providing educational opportunity to high potential students from low income backgrounds, your tax deductible contribution can be made through the “Donate” button on the top of this page.
Your support can help change lives.