Zackeus Kynard: Making it on his own, plus a little help from the Meeting Street Scholarship Fund
When Zackeus Kynard was weighing his college options, one of the deciding factors in choosing the College of Charleston was that it felt the most manageable.
It was in his hometown, and if he ever had to move in or out without help, he could do it.
The 18-year-old has handled more than his share of challenges, and it’s made him even more grateful for the Meeting Street Scholarship Fund, which is helping to cover his tuition, fees, housing and food.
“I would’ve had to cover the cost of my schooling on my own if I didn’t earn the Meeting Street Scholarship Fund,” said Kynard.
He’s grateful for the opportunity to be in college, especially since just a few years ago he wasn’t sure whether he could go.
Kynard is a fraternal twin who was born to a single mother. He doesn’t know his father nor has his father been a part of his life.
His early years are punctuated by multiple moves; by the time he was in first grade, he had lived in four different cities. His family moved to South Carolina when he was in sixth grade.
Kynard was a high-achieving student – one of his most vivid memories was when he and his sister skipped a grade – but he felt that shift when he enrolled at Charleston County School of the Arts. Students all around him were taking AP classes, and Kynard began thinking more about who he was outside of school.
He became fascinated by businesses that had once been big but had faltered, such as Blockbuster and Kmart. He researched those kinds of companies, wrote about them and posted videos on his YouTube channel, Zee Mann, which he continues to do to this day.
He decided he would be the first in his family to graduate from college and that he would launch a retail organization of his own.
“I knew I wanted to be involved in business – to build something of my own from the ground up,” he said. “I developed that sense and never looked back.”
HIGH SCHOOL YEARS
In high school, his home life became more challenging, and Kynard struggled with depression and anxiety. His situation worsened, the state Department of Social Services got involved, and Kynard moved in with a mentor his junior year.
He thought he wanted to go to college, but his mentor, a former Navy veteran, pushed him to consider the military. His mentor worried about the cost of college, but Kynard strove to keep his dreams alive.
He knew he wanted to go to college; he just didn’t know how he would pay for it.
He considered multiple in-state colleges, and he kept coming back to the College of Charleston. It was in the heart of Charleston, and it was close to home. And it was the cheapest option.
“It was a good fit,” he said. “It wasn’t too far, it wasn’t too expensive, and it gave me the chance to gain the college experience without having to leave Charleston.”
His school counselors and teachers told him about the Meeting Street Scholarship Fund, and he met the five criteria: lived in an eligible county, graduate of a public school, LIFE scholarship recipient, Pell Grant recipient, and planned to attend an eligible college. He received the maximum award – $10,000 per year.
“Having the scholarship gives me motivation to keep it,” he said.
College has been adjustment, and classes are harder than in high school, he said. But it’s also been a great chance to experience what life will be like from this point forward, he said.
“You don’t have a parent looking over your shoulder,” he said. “You’re reliant on yourself.”
His goal still is to run a retail organization and help others.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity I have,” he said. “I don’t try to brag about what I get or where I am; I just try to be the best I can be.”