Covering All the Bases with Junior, Zahrea Lewis
Zahrea Lewis is a
junior chemistry major from Savannah, Georgia. She plays first base on the Lady Bears softball team and is enrolled in the Honors College. Below, Zahrea tells us
about her experience at Shaw as a student-athlete, and her plans to become a
veterinarian after graduation.
Zahrea Lewis has been playing softball since age nine. Growing up she spent most weekends during the summer playing on travel teams, traversing the country in her family’s car to play in tournaments.
“Once I got on a travel team, every weekend
we were gone to another tournament, so all I really did was go to school and play softball,” says Zahrea.
More often than not, Zahrea was the only black girl on the team, and often the only black girl on the field. When she had an opportunity
to come to Shaw on a softball scholarship, she jumped at the chance to be part of a team with more members like her.
“Softball is not very diverse,” says Zahrea. “And travel ball is even less diverse. There are not very many African-Americans
playing travel ball because it is expensive to travel all the time. Every single weekend you’re away, your parents have to take off work if they work on the weekends – you have to put money into it to get anything out of it. It was very important
for me to get to have that experience of playing with other African-Americans.”
Zahrea’s time on the softball field paid off. Not only did she earn a partial scholarship to her school of choice, but she was also named to the CIAA All-Rookie
Team her first year, as well as the Bears’ Offensive Player of the Year last season.
Zahrea is not only an all-star on the softball field. As a member of the Honors College, she’s a high achiever in the classroom as well. She’s working on
her chemistry degree and is planning on graduating early to attend veterinary school.
“It’s hard. The classes are probably the hardest classes I’ve ever taken. I’ve taken classes at other universities, and Shaw compares. A lot of people
say HBCUs aren’t as difficult or the coursework isn’t the same – no. These classes are right up there along with other universities.”
Despite the difficulty, Zahrea says the individual support she’s received from her advisors and professors
at Shaw has made the challenge easier.
“My advisor is amazing. My chemistry professors are amazing. They’re the closest people to me. I see them every day, so if I need help, I just ask for it. That’s a big thing for me. I like to be able
to sit down and talk to somebody if I need to. They’re not always hovering over me, but if I’m coming for help they’re going to help me.”
Zahrea’s life-long love of animals has inspired her to become a veterinarian. It’s a passion that has
taken her all the way to Alaska. This past summer, she interned with Dr. Dee Thornell, famous for her Animal Planet TV series, Dr. Dee: Alaska Vet. Unfortunately, Animal Planet wasn’t filming during Zahrea’s time there, so you won’t be seeing her
on TV anytime soon. Still, she says the experience was life-changing and that she learned a lot about being a veterinarian in her two months in Fairbanks, Alaska.
“It was amazing. I learned literally everything I know working in Alaska with
Dr. Dee. She taught me how to draw blood, how to restrain animals, how to cut toenails, how to do dental cleanings. She taught me about different diseases, viruses, and vaccinations. She tried to break it down and make it chemistry related so I could
understand what was going on and tie it back into what I was doing at school, which was a big help.”
Zahrea’s advice for students considering Shaw?
“Choose Shaw because you want to be something in life. You have a goal. Come to Shaw and fulfill that goal throughout your 4 years Shaw is extremely supportive and will help you make it happen.”