NJ Star Sets a Shining Example
Saskia Davis has an undeniable star quality. Academically talented, a natural leader, and a bright optimist who had the nickname “shining star” as a child, Saskia is also a NJ Star.
Graduating third in the Class of 2014 from Paterson’s International High School, she qualified for the prestigious NJ Stars program, which awards college scholarships to selected students who graduate in the top 15% of their high school class.
“It was great news to be chosen as a NJ Star,” said Saskia. “I feel so proud to have this opportunity, and I’m going to make this work.”
A member of the National Honor Society in high school, Saskia was also vice-president of the school’s Student Government Association, a member of the debate team, and active in the Future Business Leaders of America program.
She was selected twice for the Albert Schweitzer Leadership for Life initiative which provides leadership and mentorship programs to certain high school students who demonstrate academic achievement, good character, and interest in community service around the globe.
Saskia attended the program’s conferences in Ireland where she connected with students from Palestine, Nigeria, India, and other countries. “We attended workshops on leadership and also shared with each other about our schools and lives in our countries,” she explained. “It was a wonderful cultural exchange.”
The Paterson resident got a head start on college through the dual-enrollment program which allows qualifying high school students to attend college-level classes for credit.
“The first college class I took was psychology with Professor (Ed) Moseley,” said Saskia. ‘It was great. He made the class fun and interactive, and also gave me insight to what a college class is like.”
Now a full-time PCCC student majoring in biology, Saskia is considering a medical career as an OB-GYN. “Ever since I was very young, I always wanted to take care of people, especially children,” she said.
But she also “has a passion for law,” and plans to pursue an internship in a law office this summer to explore that career path, particularly as a juvenile attorney.
“Many lawyers just want to do their job,” says Saskia. “ They don’t understand they need to go beyond that to change negative situations, especially for young children who need to be protected.”
Growing up in Jamaica, Saskia was known by the nickname “shining star,” because of her friendly personality and willingness to pitch in on projects or even take over when necessary. She served as class prefect (the equivalent to class president), ran track and field, and sang in the school choir.
When she came to the U.S. in 2010 at age 16, Saskia had mixed feelings about leaving Jamaica, but soon adjusted to her new life. “I never want to be boxed in,” she says. “I enjoy meeting new people and feel comfortable going right up to them.”
At PCCC, Saskia is a peer mentor, assisting fellow students when needed. She is also chairperson of the Student Planning Committee and involved in the Alliance for Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) which provides both funding and support for students who might now otherwise be able to attend college. “EOF is like an extended family,” she said. “We all work together, go to library together, and motivate each other.”
Saskia plans to continue her education after PCCC at Rutgers in New Brunswick, and she wants to study abroad one day. “I really enjoy approaching other cultures,” she explained.
An ambitious humanitarian, Saskia has not yet decided on her specific career path, but she knows it must be one that fulfills her. “If you love your job, you’ll never feel like you’re working,” she says.