July 2018 Alumni Spotlight: Ava Zechiel

Welcome to the Next Step Alumni Spotlight! Every month throughout the school year we highlight a Next Step Alumni to check in and see how they are doing and what they’ve been up to since graduating from Next Step PCS.

For this month, we caught up with Ava Zechiel. 


Q. Where were you born? How did you hear about The Next Step PCS?

A. I was born in VA and grew up in DC my whole life.  I heard about Next step through my parents when I needed to find a way to finish school and a program that worked for me.  

Q. What attracted you to The Next Step PCS and how was your experience?

A. Next Step was a good fit.  My experience was great because TNS has a lot of culture, community and acceptance.

Q. In what language did you pass the GED?

A. English.

Q. Did you ever feel frustrated during your time at The Next Step PCS?

A. I don't think I ever got too frustrated with studying.  The only thing was being young, having to wait some time to officially take the GED due to my age, and making sure I was ready and making the right decision for my life.  

Q. Who or what helped you pass the GED?

A. Everyone at Next Step helped, along with friends and family.

Q. Where did you enroll after graduating from TNS? Did you graduate? If so, what degree did you earn?

A. I enrolled at UDC Community College to get an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Studies.  I graduated in May 2018. will be attending Hollins University in the fall. I will be pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications.  

Q. What is the best part of your being enrolled at your postsecondary school?

A. The best part of my postsecondary experience has been finding people that are interested in some of the same things as myself.

Q. Did you receive any scholarships or financial aid assistance? If not, do you plan on applying to scholarships or financial aid?

A. I got the Mundo scholarship from The Next Step. Also, I was a part of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society at UDC Community College, and was awarded some scholarships for the fall at Hollins University.

Q. What are you up to now?

A. This summer I will be working, travelling, and getting ready to live on campus at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia.

Q. What are your future professional goals?

A. I don't quite know what I want to do with my communications degree I know I want to do something related to writing or photography.  A career where I can be creative is what I have in mind.

Q. What is your favorite thing to do when you are not working or in school?

A. I like to take photos, write, and watch Youtube videos.

Q. What accomplishments are you most proud of?

A. I would say one of my biggest accomplishments is getting through community college with good grades and GPA at a young age. I graduated with my GED at 16 years old.  

Q. Any shoutouts and if so, who?

A. My family and friends for being so supportive, as well as my mentor over at UDC-CC, Robyn Ellis. At Next Step, I would like to shout out Ms. Roxy for guiding/supporting me into my postsecondary placement and Mr. Burnette because he helped me with gaining confidence in my math skills.  

Q. What is your favorite quote or life motto?

A. Let it be.

Q. What advice would you give to current students at The Next Step PCS?

A. Study hard, but also make sure you’re taking care of yourself and the people you care about.