Sharnika Glasby will be attending Penn State in the fall to study engineering.
Sharnika Glasby, 18, 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.
"I do like being a good student," she says. "When I graduate, I want to be able to say I was in the top five or number one, which I was in the beginning of this year."
I don't want to be dependent on the government. I don't want to have to go through having welfare or food checks. I want a good life.
Sharnika was the top student in her school, Phelps Architecture, Construction and Engineering High School in Northeast D.C. But then an 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; I was rushing out of the house to the bus stop, my iPod in my hand changing the song."
She was a few blocks from her home, close to the Anacostia Metro station, when suddenly a man came up to her. Sharnika says the man was wearing a mask, and he ordered her to give up her bag. She says it didn't register at first, but then five seconds later the gun went off. "All I hear is a sound. A loud popping sound."
She describes the feeling "a searing sensation." The bullet hit her just above the knee and went through her leg. There was blood -- a lot of blood.
"My whole pant leg was soaked," she says. "It was flowing down my leg. It was like, am I going to die from this?"
Sharnika limped toward her house. "I was crying a lot, when the police were talking to me, I was crying... In the ambulance, I was crying. I couldn't 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. The scar has since faded, but some wounds are still with her.
"It makes you paranoid all the time," she says. "I can never go back to the time when I'm just walking down the street blasting my music in my earphones. You're always looking behind you. You're always looking at people who sit beside you. It's stressful."
Her schoolwork suffered when she missed weeks of classes.
"I haven't been able to get the grades I did," she says. "I still get As and Bs but now it's an occasional C, and that kills me. It's because I missed a lot of stuff. In math, it really set me back, because math builds on those lessons."
It makes you paranoid all the time…You're always looking behind you. You're always looking at people who sit beside you. It's stressful.
Sharnika wants to be an engineer. She says most members of her family didn't make it past high school.
"They got a job right after school, or they tried some college and got pregnant or something. I don't want to be dependent on the government. I don't want to have to go through having welfare or food checks. I want a good life."
A good life for Sharnika doesn't mean fancy clothes or expensive meals or exotic vacations. She says she wants to be able continue school and earn a master's degree.
"I want to know I can pay my bills and have a nice house. I want a good life. Maybe a really nice car!"
Sharnika says she has a big supportive extended family that has 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.
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 she started hearing back from colleges with acceptance letters. She laughs and remembers being grateful the man who shot her didn't take her bag.
"What was in my bag were my documents I had to submit, so my transcripts could be sent off," she says. "So the one thing I was thinking was, I have to get back to school and submit them. I don't want the deadline to hit, and not going to college."
Sharnika Glasby is going to Penn State to study engineering in the fall.
[Music: "Oh Happy Day" by 101 Strings Orchestra from The Most Beautiful Romantic Melodies]