MS. REBECCA SHEIR
About now it's a very happy time for thousands of students across our region as they don their caps and gowns and get their diplomas from high school. And one of the happiest of those students may very well be Sharnika Glasby. Sharnika is finishing up her studies at Phelps Architecture, Construction and Engineering High School in Northeast D.C. And she's overcome some pretty daunting challenges to make it this far.
MS. REBECCA SHEIR
Special correspondent, Kavitha Cardoza, has been sharing the stories of students like Sharnika for the past three years in a series called Beating the Odds. And over the next few weeks she'll bring us a new crop of graduating seniors, starting with Sharnika.
MS. KAVITHA CARDOZA
Eighteen year old Sharnika Glasby is one of those students who squeezed every moment out of high school. She was in Model UN, Shakespeare scholars, and choir. She was an athlete, taking part in softball, volleyball, and track. And she was an honor roll student, maintaining a 3.7 GPA.
MS. SHARNIKA GLASBY
I do like being a good student. And when I graduate, I want to be able to say I was in the top five or I was number one, which I was in the beginning of the year.
Sharnika was the top student in her school, but then…
The incident happened.
The incident is Sharnika's shorthand for the day she was shot on her way to school, a few months ago.
It was a normal day and I was rushing out of the house. And I'm walking down the street with my iPod and my phone in my hand changing the song.
She was a few blocks from her home, close to the Anacostia Metro station, when a man suddenly came up to her.
He was wearing a mask, and he's like, "Give me your bag." It didn't really register and he shoots me. All I hear is a really loud just popping sound.
She describes feeling a searing sensation. The bullet hit just above her knee and went through her leg. There was blood.
My whole pants leg was soaked. Yeah, I’m like, am I going to die from this? Like, it was just so much.
Sharnika limped toward her house.
And the police came, I was still crying, when I was in the ambulance, I was crying. They were trying to talk to me and calm me down, but it was like I couldn't really get a hold of myself.
Sharnika says this happens a lot in her neighborhood. She just didn't think it would happen to her, on her way to school, wearing her uniform. She missed a month of school as her leg healed. Some worries like, will you be able to see the scar when I wear a skirt, faded after a few weeks. But some wounds are still with her.
It'll make you paranoid all the time. It's like I will never go back to the time where I can just walk down the street, blasting my music or with my iPod in my hand. You're always looking behind you. You're always wondering if the person sitting next to you is going to do something bad. It's like really stressful.
Her schoolwork suffered when she missed weeks of class.
I haven't been able to come back with the grades I have gotten in the past. Like, I still get A's and B's, but there's an occasional C that's just killing me. It is because I don't understand the lessons that I've missed. Like, in math it really set me back, plus other challenging classes like my digital electronic class and my engineering class. It set me back in those, so I have to catch up in those, too. It was like, when did we learn this? And everybody's like, oh, yeah, it was that class. And I was like, oh, yeah, I was out.
Sharnika wants to be an engineer.
In my family most people who have not gone above a high school education. They got a job right after high school or they tried college and they got pregnant or something. And I don't want that to happen to me. I don't want to be dependent on, like, the government, welfare or food stamps. I've seen that look of defeat. I don't want that life. I want a better life.
A better life for Sharnika doesn't mean fancy clothes or expensive meals or exotic vacations.
I want to be able to go to school. I want to be able to say I've got my master's degree and have, like, an awesome job that I, you know, won't be able to get fired because I have, like, good education. Like, I want to be able to know that I can pay my bills and have a good house and maybe a fancy car.
Sharnika says she has a big supportive extended family who have been there for her when she faced other challenges, a mother on drugs, bouncing between relatives, a custody battle. And school has also helped her cope with the shooting.
It's still a terrible subject, but it's not as terrible as it could be. It's really stressful, but then you have the people in your life that makes it better.
While she was recovering from her wound, school staff brought her food and helped pay her senior dues. Her friends helped explain classwork and cheered her up, and best of all, she started hearing back from colleges with acceptance letters. She laughs and remembers what she was focused on after she was shot.
What was in my bag were really important documents, I had to submit those so my transcripts could be sent off to the colleges. So the one thing I was thinking was, I have to get back to school, I have to turn those in.
You got shot and that was one of the things on your mind?
A lot of people say that. But it was like, you get shot and you were worried about college applications? Yes, I was because the deadline was really close.
Sharnika Glasby is going to Penn State to study engineering in the fall. I'm Kavitha Cardoza.
We'll be sharing more of Kavitha's Beating the Odds series over the next few weeks, so stay tuned.
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