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Zharia Akeem and Dre'Vonne Hilton

Rising Renaissance High School seniors Dre'Vonne Hilton and Zharia Akeem are passionate about pursing greatness. As members of Renaissance’s first International Baccalaureate (IB) honors class, they will be putting their experiences to the test this summer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Mass.

The students will participate in MIT’s Minority Introduction to Engineering, and Science (MITES), which is a rigorous six-week residential summer program that introduces promising high school seniors to engineering and science. The program stresses the value and rewards of pursuing technical degrees and careers, with more than just challenging coursework, but opportunities to network with professors, meet admission counselors and experience a prestigious college environment.  

To be considered, students are chosen based on several criteria, such as high school grades, written essays, teacher recommendations, standardized test scores (PSAT or SAT scores), participation in extracurricular activities and volunteer work. Dre’Vonne, a future first-generation college student, and Zharia, president of the Renaissance Math Club, emphasized it was their calculus and physics teachers who guided them through the application process and encouraged them to apply based on their interests in physics and math.   

“Dr. Treadway-Harvel and Mr. Alster were persistent in ensuring we submitted our applications,” said Zharia. “Even now that we’re accepted, they will tell us what we’ll need to know for our courses to make sure we are one step ahead. Our teachers and our IB classes have done such a great job at preparing us for this opportunity.” 

For Dre’Vonne and Zharia, math and science has always been a passion and they hope to pursue it as a career.

“When I took my first physics class, I fell in love with it. I now either want to be a physicist who explores space, or I’d like to study applied mathematics,” said Dre’Vonne. “I have to give credit to my teachers in middle school, Mr. McCulley and Mr. Adams. They pulled me aside and made me realize my talents in mathematics and science. I was always a math kid growing up. I just didn’t realize how skilled I was until someone told me.”

Zharia remembers the moment she found a way to combine her passions of mathematics and bettering her community.

“I’ve always wanted to go into mathematics,” said Zharia. “In math club we did a 12-hour competition equation of modeling how many smokers there would be in 10 years. It was that assignment that made me realize I want to be the person who develops equations for research projects that can better our community and world.”

The students both agree that MIT will be their first-choice school when applying to colleges this fall, and if they score well in their classes, they will be one-step ahead of the competition earning their spot as MIT college students in the Fall of 2020.

DPSCD wishes Dre’Vonne and Zharia a safe and enjoyable journey as they pursue their dreams! #DPSCDProud

Article Written By: Rachel Talaska, Program Manager, DPSCD Office of Communications and Marketing