Brinkley-Lane Scholar: Zasha Griffin

Zasha Griffin said the family atmosphere that exists among Brinkley-Lane Scholars helped him choose East Carolina University.

“ECU offers such a wide range of clubs that I was never worried about finding people with my interests,” Griffin said. “Releaf ECU, Pirates on Water, ECO Pirates and ECU Water Corps all stood out to me as being great learning and growing opportunities for me to take my first steps as a real ‘adult.’ ECU seems to be full of good opportunities and a strong alumni network.”

As a Brinkley-Lane Scholar, Griffin will have access to an array of leadership opportunities, research with award-winning faculty members and a robust alumni network. The four-year merit scholarship is the most prestigious undergraduate award program offered at ECU, recognizing outstanding academic performance, commitment to community engagement and strong leadership skills. Recipients receive a fully funded education, covering the cost of tuition, fees, room and board for both in-state and out-of-state students and unique high impact experiences, as well as the ability to explore the world with a $5,000 study abroad stipend.

“To me, Brinkley-Lane Scholars means upholding the legacy of success and keeping the door open for future scholars down the line,” Griffin said. “Having a ‘family’ is the core tenet of Brinkley-Lane Scholars and keeping up that reputation is the most important part for me.”

Griffin, an intended engineering major, has a long-term goal to work as an environmental engineer.

“It marries my love for nature with how I process the world,” he said. “I think that working in this field would allow me to experience my favorite parts of the world and be a job I truly enjoy. I’m not sure what route I’m going to take now but being able to provide an impact to a tangible thing makes me feel very accomplished in life. One potential I’ve looked at is either working for the federal government or continuing my education to get a master’s (degree).”

Griffin already works as a site/civil engineering design intern with an Asheville firm, which he will continue doing this summer. He primarily uses computer-aided design software to create and generate development plans for stormwater, utilities, roadways and more.

“I am the first high school student to fill this role at my company and have shown my worth as a hard worker,” he said. “This job is very engaging and lets me use real-world knowledge along with my creative skills to generate designs. This job blends my love of topography/natural resources and my intentions for my future career.”

While at the School of Inquiry and Life Sciences in Asheville, Griffin served in the community as an apprentice for a local nonprofit, Energy Savers Network (ESN), which provides free weatherization and improvements for income-qualified households in Buncombe County.

“I really expanded my worldview and was introduced to new cultures, experiences and lives. In this program, I met multiple families struggling through hardship, but every time we finished working, our time felt valued and significant,” he said. “This experience has propelled me to hopefully create initiatives similar to ESN and ESN’s value at ECU. Being firsthand in the efforts to improve a family’s life carries a true weight and is something I aspire to continue.”

Griffin also was a crewmember with the Mobilize Green Youth Conservation Corps at Superior National Forest in Minnesota, where he worked in trail maintenance, invasive management and repairs of recreation areas damaged by wildfires.

“This program let me take on some really big physical, emotional and mental challenges and it served as my way to get out of my shell,” he said. “In this program, I was able to understand my affinity for nature and plants. It has been incredibly influential to the person I am today and the goals I wish to meet.”

At ECU, Griffin is looking forward to getting involved in clubs, but mainly, getting to know all the Brinkley-Lane Scholars. “I chose ECU because of the family that I already saw in the other scholars,” he said. “In the short interactions I’ve had with the scholars, they’ve been kind, helpful and genuinely great people.”

He said he’s not sure where he will study abroad but is interested in going somewhere in Europe. “I think getting the chance to see new landscapes, architecture and ecosystems will be eye-opening,” he said.

Griffin, 18, is the son of Abigail Griffin of Asheville.

“I chose ECU because of the family that I already saw in the other scholars.”

High school: School of Inquiry and Life Sciences at Asheville

Intended major: Engineering

Current City: Asheville

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