One of the more rewarding experiences is to see our young people mature and thrive early in life. This month we are featuring one such young lady, Zakiyyah. Born in the month of September, 16 year old Zakiyyah has just completed the 11th grade and is concentrating on preparing for her future. Her hobby is running and although she is very good at it, as she gets older, she is learning the value of balancing her interests with her need to succeed in school and in other areas of her life. She is eager to admit however, that a lot of what she has learned about life comes from the support she receives from both of her parents.
Zakiyyah attends Bermuda Institute, BI, a private school located on Middle Road, in Southampton, Bermuda. As a result of her Christian education, she is a very active member in her Church and looks forward to doing what she can to be of service for the Lord and for the community. Although a seemingly quiet and well-mannered young lady, Zakiyyah acknowledges the fact that like any of her peers, she does want to do all the things a teenager does from day-to-day. Regardless of the many distractions however, Zakiyyah appreciates the need for sacrifice and has learned the importance of balancing her life with a good spiritual base which can be attributed to the Christian ethics she learns in school as well as those passed down to her by her mother.
At a very young age, Zakiyyah has experienced many successes. As a student in P6 at West End Primary School, she won the Front Street Mile. She came second in the 2009 Bermuda Day Junior Derby, she was fourth in the 3,000 Open Division in 2011 and won a bronze medal at the Carifta Games Nassau, Bahamas in April 2013. Her ability to focus on her running overlaps into her daily life. Although she has a passion for running, she only wants to continue the sport as a hobby and so far, she has chosen not to pursue “running” as a career. She actually wants to be an Accountant but has not decided on the specific area of concentration. However this global-minded teen does know that she wants to become involved in International Accounting and looks forward to the opportunity to work overseas.
Her goal is to attend La Sierra, a Christian college located in California because she does want to continue her studies in a Christian environment. What she has learned and most appreciates about Christian education is that “it not only involves me as an individual but it includes and encourages my family to become involved in my education as well.” She is most encouraged that even the non-Christian students who attend her high school are exposed to Bible teachings and therefore receive a good solid base for dealing with life in general. And she adds with a smile: “They also learn how to pray.”
What irritates her though, is when outsiders who know nothing about the art of running, give her unwarranted advice about what to do and what not to do. For a period of time, this really turned her against the sport and she actually stopped running early in 2014. In the past, she ran for the Pacers Club and Signa Track Club. Zakiyyah branched off from both clubs and is now being coached by George Smith (a personal Track Trainer) who continues to add to her development as an athlete. So this has been a good change for Zakiyyah, as this move has helped her to remain focused.
Zakiyyah is very grateful for the support she receives from our community which has often supported her financially, enabling her to fly overseas to compete in various athletic events. At 16, she really needs to commit now if she is going to compete professionally in future but that would require her to move away from Bermuda to race against other athletes. At the moment, this is not at the top of her list of priorities and therefore remains on the ‘back-burner’ for now.
There are a number of our young people who race in many forms, running, riding, swimming, cycling, sailing and other sports and regardless of what the general consensus is, there is much opportunity available to the Youth of Bermuda. So when asked if she would like to be a role model, her response was, “Sure! I don’t mind working with young people…, sometimes,” she says with a smile. But this young person would be able to share a lot with her peers especially since she always aims to do her very best at everything she does.
Bermuda’s youth are continuously striving to take their place in society and as adults we must find the time and the energy to give them all the support that they need. Keep your eyes on this up and coming young lady. She is armed to deal with any challenge because she is focused academically, athletically and most of all spiritually. No matter what path she chooses in life, as a professional runner, as an Accountant, or as a wife and mother, we will be praying that she continues to work hard and that as she is blessed, she will use those blessings for the good of others.