At the 2021 Virtual Annual Luncheon, we were thrilled to present alumna Najaah Muhammad ’15 (MICDS ’21) with this year’s Brightman Award. The Brightman Award is named for John Brightman, one of City Academy’s original board members and supporters. John was integral in the start of the school, and this award, including a $1,000 scholarship, honors and carries on his legacy. Najaah is brilliant, determined, and a fierce community advocate, and a wonderful example of the long-lasting impact of City Academy. Read Najaah’s speech below for more on what this award, and City Academy, mean to her.
Brightman Award Acceptance Speech – Najaah Muhammad ’15 (MICDS ’21)
First, I want to say thank you for nominating and awarding me for the Brightman Award. When I first received the call that I would be the recipient, many thoughts crossed my mind. One being that it is finally 2021, and I am less than 3 months away from graduating high school. Though I have been waiting for this moment, it seemed like the time flew by.
Secondly, I would like to thank City Academy for the safe and comfortable environment that allowed me to grow into a more confident person. Along with the academic preparation, I am grateful for the close connections I have with the many members of the class of 2015 because you rarely find a group of people where you have a close bond within your community. I will forever carry the blissful memories I have with my peers (no matter the age) and the faculty. Even after I graduated from City Academy, they continued to aid me through STRIVE in addition to the check ups about grades, my mental head spaces, and any other things I needed in middle and high school. I am forever grateful for the support from City Academy.
I would also like to thank MICDS for continuing the advanced academic preparation and many opportunities including the ones that will occur in the future. During my time at MICDS, I have also been able to gain great friendships in the community, along with many of the faculty. I am thankful for the faculty members like Ms. Moore, Mr. Shockley, and Coach Foster who I can always go to for advice, questions, or just getting some food. I’m also thankful for the faculty members like D Self – my choir teacher – who has taught me all four years of high school and I am free to talk to him about anything. Overall, I’m appreciative of the experiences during my 6 years at MICDS.
Lastly, I want to shout out my support system. I would not be where I am today without my mom and my grandma. Words cannot express my gratitude, and I want to make sure I continue to make them proud. All in all, I will take the lessons I have learned from the past 17 years and utilize them in my next stage as a college student and the stages to come.
Though I have not committed to a college yet, the guidance from City Academy and MICDS has gotten me accepted into Howard University, Spelman, University of Loyola, University of San Francisco, and many others, and I am waiting to hear from Washington University (talk about connections). My plan is to study psychology and possibly minor in dance for my undergraduate studies. This will hopefully get me to my career path as a lawyer in either family court, civil rights, or criminal law with future plans of becoming a judge or a part of Congress. Even outside of my career path, I want to help my community and other communities that struggle to support young children with educational or financial challenges, so no matter where you start off in life it does not predict your future.
While at City Academy, I remember hearing the story shared of how City Academy began which was a lesson of serving and giving back to the community. And City Academy did not stop there, from my time here, they expanded to building a bridge to allow their students to continue to thrive at secondary schools. Yet still they didn’t stop there. City Academy continued to support us, their alumni, after graduating from the school. And from the news of Ms. Nikki heading to Washington University’s Institute for School Partnership, which will be another extension of growth and benefit of City Academy. And speaking of colleges, it can be very difficult with the great number of expenses no matter what college anyone decides, but I am grateful to utilize this award to aid in my academic needs as I decide on a university and embark on to college. Thank you for awarding me the Brightman Award and continuing to help other alumni like myself further their education and desires.