By Staci Johnson and Tim Sampson.

Scroll down and read about three incredible Soulsville Charter School graduates who are out there making their mark in the world. Zakiah Walker, Class of 2017, graduated from Howard University in 2021 and has traveled and studied abroad in Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Amsterdam, and other cities in France. She now works in IT for PricewatehouseCoopers in Atlanta. Martavious McGee, Class of 2012, has become a local celebrity chef and you can read more about him in a recent profile in the University of Memphis’ newspaper, The Daily Helmsman. Joshua Nichols, Class of 2015, decided to pursue a career in fashion and now works for Michael Kors, is an instructor at the University of Memphis, and is on the board of The Mosaic Collective.

Zakiah Walker, Class of 2017, has traveled the world and is now in the IT field in Atlanta working at PricewaterhouseCoopers

After graduating from The Soulsville Charter School in 2017, Zakiyah Walker (pictured above) attended Howard University in Washington, D.C. She graduated in May 2021 with a degree in Computer Information Systems and a concentration in Cybersecurity. In August, Zakiyah moved to Atlanta to start work as a Cybersecurity consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in their Cyber, Risk and Regulatory department.

While at Howard, Zakiyah took advantage of opportunities to travel outside of the country for the first time. She went to Singapore in Spring 2019 with the honors program. Then she decided to study abroad in fall 2020 in Nice, France. Even though the program was cut short because of COVID, she was able to travel to Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Amsterdam, and other cities in France.

While her long-term goals are constantly changing, eventually, she hopes to leave the private sector and become a professor at an HBCU, teaching classes in their IT department.

Zakiyah’s advice to alumni:
“It’s also okay to not have it all figured out right now. Every job may not be what you want in that moment but focus on the transferable skills you can learn and how you can use them in your next job. Find something that piques your interest and try it. Look for resources available to you (through various programs, schools, other organizations, online resources, etc.). There are free resources out there, but sometimes you may have to make the investment in courses or trainings that costs.”

If you need help finding resources/study materials for certification exams or trainings related to IT, Zakiyah is happy to help! 

Martavious McGee, Class of 2012, has led a colorful culinary life since graduation and was recently featured in the University of Memphis’ newspaper The Daily Helmsman

Photo by Noah Glenn.

By Tim Sampson

During his junior year at The Soulsville Charter School, Martavious McGee got hooked, transfixed by cooking shows. Now, some 10 years later, his studies at the University of Memphis Kemmons Wilson School of Hospitality and Resort Management and his many stints as chef at places like Chez Philippe and Catharine & Mary’s have filled his life with such sweet smells of success that he is now something of a celebrity chef in his own right.

The Daily Helmsman’s Carmen Darden recently featured Martavious and wrote, “From middle school up until his high school graduation, Martavious McGee used his love for music to learn the art of playing the violin – at least until one day during his junior year when his attention went elsewhere. Coming home, after a long day of school practice, he changed the channel to the Food Network, which would forever change his dreams.”


Pursuing a career path less traveled by many young men his age, Joshua Nichols, Class of 2015, chose fashion as his focus, has landed at job at Michael Kors, and is now a board member at The Mosaic Collective

By Staci Johnson

Joshua Nichols, class of 2015, graduated from the University of Memphis in 2020 with a degree in professional and liberal studies with a concentration in fashion merchandising and marketing. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in strategic leadership while also serving as a visual merchandiser at Michael Kors, a freelance artist, and working as an instructor for a course in Consumer Engagement at the University of Memphis.

Josh is proudest of his decision to choose a path that isn’t taken by many African American males – to pursue the creative field of fashion. He observes, “Prior to the new pandemic generation, most males wouldn’t think to pursue a creative field. It’s always pushed that little boys should be engineers, mechanics, or doctors. I’m proud that the village around me encouraged me to be my authentic self and not follow a stereotypical tradition.” 

Josh’s advice to alumni is to BE YOU! Figure out what you love and once you know what your passion is, find a way to monetize it. “If you choose to be a TikTok personality full time, think about a degree or studying journalism or public relations. If you want to be a rapper, think of studying music or communication. The world is yours, but we’d never know that if we don’t know YOU!”

In the long term, Josh plans to create a creative firm here in Memphis bridging all seven segments of arts industries (i.e., music, theater, cinema, architecture, literature, sculpture, and painting).

Keep an eye out for Josh’s next project – hosting a fashion show this May titled A Black Mosaic. It will be hosted by The Mosaic Collective, where he serves as a member of the board of directors.