When Zera Gathing-Brown visited the original site of her high school it brought back vivid memories.


New Hope Missionary Baptist Church on West Roosevelt Drive served as the first home of Dr. Howard Fuller Collegiate Academy. When Zera Gathing-Brown visited the original site of her high school it brought back vivid memories.

“In those little, small classrooms, we used to start the day off,” remembers Brown. “Connection was very important to us, especially in this building. We had about 150 students at the time.”

Brown earned her diploma from CEO Leadership Academy in 2010, which later changed its name to Dr. Howard Fuller Collegiate Academy. Since she graduated, the school’s name has changed, but its mission hasn’t. Brown earned a bachelor of science in accounting from Grambling State University in 2014. Today, she works for Lexus Nexus as an accounting and financial analyst.

“I remember we ramped up this whole competition to see who could get accepted into the most schools.” recalls Brown. “That was a huge thing because the mission statement is about sending scholars to and through college.”

Zera maintains a strong connection to her alma mater and remembers her graduating class as “tightly knit”.

“I felt like I belonged here,” Brown says. “I was only supposed to be going here as a test, I really wanted to go to Riverside. I came here and I loved it, so I stayed.”

Brown says she felt deeply connected to the school community, “The teachers gravitate to you and they take you under their wing and guide you and give you advice. That was something that I really loved.”

Zera attributes a significant portion of her decision to attend Grambling State University to Denise Pitchford, the school’s first principal, “Teachers believe in you in such a way that you start believing in yourself and you start dreaming dreams that you had to dream before.”


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