Fatmata is nothing if not determined. When she graduated fourth in her middle school class, she got angry. She promised herself that she would graduate in the top three of her high school class. And that’s what she did – this year she’s Broome Street Academy’s Salutatorian, graduating with a 3.85 GPA.

She’s always been into school, even if some days it just hits her and she doesn’t want to show up. That’s not an option for her. “My father pushes me to be my best, and my mother shows me how to get there,” says Fatmata. Her mother taught her to always be on top of her work, and to never give up. Her entire family will attend her graduation because it’s a major milestone for all of them – she’s the second member of her family to graduate high school, her older sister beat her by a few years.

Attending Broome Street Academy (BSA) was crucial to achieving her goal. She took advantage of every after school tutoring class that was offered. Fatmata admits, “Having a tutor pushed me to try harder. I completed all my homework after school with my tutors. I was very determined to reach my goal of graduating as one of the top three students.”

When she arrives home after a long day at school, she’s enveloped by her family and her apartment-building neighbors, who watched over her as she grew up. At home her family honors their Fulani culture and religion. Her parents were born in Guinea, and they eat traditional Fulani food almost every day. Her favorite dish is fufu, a spicy powdered yam and okra soup.

Science has always been Fatmata’s favorite subject, with chemistry coming in first and biology a close second. Next year she’s heading to college at one of the four CUNY and SUNY schools where she’s been accepted. She’ll major in chemistry, in preparation for a career as an obstetrician and gynecologist.

When she saw a video about the tennis player Serena Williams’ life-threatening experience when she delivered her baby, Fatmata’s decision was made and her path clear. “I have a soft spot for babies, and there aren’t enough female ob-gyns out there,” she says. “I want to make a difference, and help women who look like me. Often, when they go to the doctor or hospital because of a complication with their pregnancies, they’re the least likely to be believed by doctors, who just pass them off. I don’t want a black woman, or any woman, to feel like they’re not believed.”