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The Voice of the Black Community


Covering all the bases with Zahrea Lewis
Published Monday, January 29, 2018
by Kandace Harris, Ph.D., Shaw University

RALEIGH – Zahrea Lewis is a junior chemistry major from Savannah, Georgia. She plays first base on Shaw University’s softball team and is enrolled in the Honors College. 

Lewis has been playing softball since age 9. 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.

More often than not, she 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,” Lewis said. “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.”

Lewis’s time on the 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.

Lewis is also 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. A lot of people say HBCUs aren’t as difficult or the coursework isn’t the same. These classes are right up there along with other universities,” she said.

Lewis’s lifelong 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 Lewis’s time there, so you won’t be seeing her on TV anytime soon. Still, she says the experience was life-changing, and she learned a lot about being a veterinarian in her two months in Fairbanks, Alaska.

“It was amazing. She taught me how to draw blood, how to restrain animals, how to cut toenails, how to do dental cleanings,” Lewis said. “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.”




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