Lifelong Friends at PA Cyber: A Q&A with Elia and Zayn
Students receive full college scholarships based on their performance at the public cyber charter school.
College sophomores Elia Mikhail and Zayn Farooq met in first grade at their local district school, and they later enrolled in PA Cyber, an online public school for grades K-12. Zayn enrolled at PA Cyber in sixth grade, and Elia in ninth grade. They graduated from the public cyber charter school together in June 2022, where they walked across the stage, turned their tassels, and threw their caps in the air. Both received full college scholarships — Elia with Princeton University and Zayn with Robert Morris University. Elia plans to major in Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Zayn is focusing on Political Science. Read on for their insights on friendship, experiences with PA Cyber, and advice for future high school graduates.
How did you become friends?
Elia: We attended the same elementary school and became close. We were both in the gifted program and children of immigrants, so we had enough commonalities between us to start a close friendship.
Zayn: We became friends when we met on the first day of first grade. Our shoes were the same color, and we were fascinated by this.
How have you stayed friends?
Elia: We lived close to each other and always saw each other around. We have had our lulls in friendship, but being around each other so much has produced a friendship that is quite difficult to break.
Zayn: We’ve stayed friends by simply communicating. Even when we graduated from elementary school and went our separate ways, we always made time to meet each other. Our families grew close as well.
Why did you and your family choose PA Cyber?
Elia: We had decided that switching to an online education would be the best move I could make, so I could take a wide variety of coursework. Fortunately, Zayn had been in PA Cyber for three years prior, and he shared with us his experiences.
Zayn: There weren’t any other viable middle school options in my area, and PA Cyber offered a quality education from the comfort of my home. I tried it for a year and loved it.
How did PA Cyber help you prepare for college?
Elia: PA Cyber fostered in me a degree of educational independence rarely seen in brick-and-mortar schooling, something that has proven vital to my success in college. Support was within close reach, particularly from my advisors. PA Cyber’s College in High School program provided me with an abundance of advanced coursework dedicated to easing the transition to college.
Zayn: PA Cyber prepared me for college by giving me a great academic advisor and college counselor. PA Cyber’s flexibility allowed me to focus on college applications during the beginning of my senior year and then shift my focus back to classes during the third and fourth quarters. I was accepted to seven institutions and was able to win a full ride!
Do you have any advice for students who want to get into their ideal college?
Elia: Take hard classes and join extracurriculars that you truly have passion for! As an aside, do not fret over how competitive a certain college may be — you always have a shot!
Zayn: Make sure you apply to a wide variety of colleges both in and out of your area. Work hard in your classes, but always make sure to relax and have fun. After all, you only have four years of high school!
To find out if PA Cyber is a perfect fit for your student, visit pacyber.org or call (724) 643-1180.
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