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Sister Also Member of this Year’s Class
Sisters Maya and Jasera Abdurrashid both received Associate in Liberal Arts degrees at Essex County College’s 53rd annual Commencement on June 3. The South Orange residents joined a long line of siblings who have received ECC degrees at the same ceremony.
But what sets Maya a little apart from other alumni and her sister Jasera is her age. At 15, Maya had the distinction of being the youngest graduate in this year’s class.
“I got sick while nearing high school, and the doctors felt as if homeschooling would have been the best option for me,” said Maya. Their mother, who is also a New York City teacher, Michelle Abdurrashid, agreed to set up a rigorous curriculum for her daughter.
Maya’s mother made the curriculum a rigorous high school experience for her. “The academic work at home was intense. It was just as if I was in a traditional high school,” recalled Maya.
Jasera had enrolled at ECC in the Fall of 2020, and Maya was ready the following Spring. “I began here during the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, so my classes were all online,” Jasera said. She added that online and some hybrid classes made it a bit easier for her sister to transition to college.
Maya agreed, stating, “The online classes were similar to homeschooling, and with that, I was able to have a smooth transition into ECC. As Covid-19 got better, hybrid classes were available, so I felt comfortable once I started taking some classes on campus. This college experience had a great impact on my academic endeavors. I’m very happy I started here at ECC.”
The sisters had a couple of classes together. “It was interesting to me to see how well Maya fit into the classes. I wasn’t sure at first with the age difference of her classmates, but there were no problems,” said Jasera. In addition to earning her degree, Maya graduated with College Honors and an Honors designation. “This is just the beginning of my educational journey as I plan to go the way to my doctorate,” said Maya.
Now Michelle Abdurrashid is confident her daughters are ready for the next phase of their higher education. Both are transferring to the Savannah (Georgia) College of Art and Design (SCAD). The sisters will room together, and the family has relatives in Georgia.
At SCAD, Maya is looking to combine her love of art with the business side. Jasera will concentrate on game design. The two sisters plan to give back to those in need. “I have been a benevolent person ever since I was young. I have always been eager to help the ones around me.” Maya says.
They are helping by working with The Treehouse Learning Academy as Maya and Jasera believe in educating all. “Young brains need support from those around them. I like to think of it as a tree. A young tree usually needs support to allow it to grow straight up. Without the support on either side of the young tree, it begins to lean to the side, and as it grows, it won’t reach its highest potential, just like our brains, which is why support is necessary from a young age. The education we get from a young age comes to play in our futures. It determines the quality of life we will have as adults.” Maya added. You can follow Maya’s journey on www.mayasjade.com.
ECC’s President, Dr. Augustine A. Boakye, said the Abdurrashid sisters are excellent examples of how the College is ideal for students of all ages. “I am proud of Maya for being our youngest graduate in the Class of 2022. Jasera is another outstanding student, and I’m confident both will do themselves and Essex County College proud going forward.”