JCPS Scholarship Recipient: Deja Andrews

Seneca senior will attend University of Michigan-Dearborn, major in biology on pre-med track

May 20, 2020 – By the time Deja Andrews started high school, she had already attended five elementary and three middle schools, “ping-ponging back and forth” between her mother’s and grandparent’s homes in Louisville and Michigan.

The frequent moves and instability chipped away at her self-esteem and made it difficult to make friends and nurture relationships.

She focused on her classwork and became determined to succeed in school.

“I had to overcome these thoughts so I could be the best that I could possibly be and be ready for the next chapters in my life,” she said.

The Seneca High School senior was awarded $30,000 from the Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) Employee-Sponsored Student Scholarship Fund, one of four students to receive scholarships from the fund this year. JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio surprised her with the award on Wednesday, showing up at her home with a large ceremonial check and to congratulate her in person.

 She will attend the University of Michigan-Dearborn, majoring in biology on a pre-med track.

“All through high school I’ve dreamed of this kind of opportunity,” Deja after receiving the award. “I’ve wanted to have a way to fund my education.  It makes it a lot easier knowing that all the hard work has paid off and that I have the support of so many people.  I’m going to go and change lives.”

Though Deja attended Seneca out of convenience – it was her home school – she credits the school for being a key part of her success, and for giving her numerous opportunities to branch out of her comfort zone.  “I was always prideful of my school,” she said.

The school’s service club, the RedHawk Rangers, in particular, became like a family to her, and she has volunteered more than 150 hours as part of the group.  She also helped start the Black Student Union at Seneca, has served on the student council, and has maintained a spot on the school’s A/B Honor Roll all four years.

Though healthcare has always had a profound significance in her life – Deja’s mother and grandparents all have medical challenges – it was during her sophomore year, when Seneca started a Patient Care Technician program, that she discovered her passion for medicine.  Since then she’s worked as a nurse’s aide, shadowed researchers and volunteered at University of Louisville Hospital, joined HOSA-Future Health Professionals, and was one of 42 students accepted out of more than 400 applicants to a summer camp for under-represented students interested in medicine at the University of Michigan.

Beyond college, she hopes to go on to medical school and eventually invest her time and energy as a mentor to other first-generation students who need help and guidance for pre-med studies.

Her grandfather passed away last year and her grandmother moved back to Michigan.  Deja wasn’t keen to leave her grandmother, who had frequently raised her, alone.  “She gave me so much and she helped me so much that the least I could do was go up there and make sure she’s ok,” Deja said. So in August, when she starts classes at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, Deja won’t be living on campus.

She’ll live with her grandmother.