On May 12th, 2011, a memorial scholarship was awarded to two New Jersey students - both exemplified strong scholastic achievements, leadership, and honors throughout their high school tenure. Briana Taylor and Mageline Noelvil were recognized by The LoveMikeNia Foundation, Inc., a 501c3 Scholarship & Community Service organization founded by Kenny Simpson in June 2010.
The foundations mission is to provide a monetary scholarship every year to high school students that lead by example, in honor of Mike and Nia, friends of Simpson. As the gift of achievement is always special in recognizing, Mike and Nia led a life that has served as an inspiration to so many others. The story of Mike and Nia is a story of love, unity, and perseverance that has grown into a spirited movement. (Mike and Nia will be affectionately referred to as MikeNia throughout this article.)
"A man of high character is one of strong roots and a solid foundation."
This much can be said about Michael Muchioki, an extraordinary young man whose roots and foundation spring from the soil of Jersey City, New Jersey. A man whose love of travel and discovery led him all across the globe, yet he carried his hometown on his back.
Born in May 1982 to Erastus and Sandra Muchioki, Michael spent the earlier years of his childhood on 243 Randolph Street, the first home that his father purchased in the Jersey City area. Michael is the younger brother to Amanda and Patricia. The family later moved around the corner to 18 Union Street in 1987, where Michael, affectionately known as “Mike,” spent his youth and the place where his mom and dad still remain.
As an adolescent, Mike exhibited a motivation to succeed in many facets of his life. As a high school student at Marist High school in Bayonne, NJ, Mike represented Jersey City as a national merit scholar, receiving recognition from the Jersey Journal for placing in the top 95% for all African American students completing the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT). However, Mike’s desire to excel reached far beyond academics. He brought the same tenacity from the class room to various extracurricular activities including the chess club, art club and bowling team. Additionally, he is noted as earning three varsity letters on the Marist Football team.
Mike’s high school achievements were not overlooked, as his good grades and strong test scores led to his acceptance into the prestigious Albert Dorman Honors College at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). There he honed his interests in math, science, and technology as a Computer Science major. Despite his academic obligations, Mike never neglected his commitment to community service. While at NJIT, Mike was initiated in Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. He served as both a faithfully member and Chapter President, while leading his organizations in many campus and community-based initiatives.
Mike would later serve as the Assistant District Director of his fraternity throughout the state, representing every undergraduate chapter in New Jersey. While balancing the demands of school and fraternity affairs, Mike was still able to be a supportive and loving boyfriend to his college sweetheart Nia Haqq.
Mike began his professional career at Cingular Wireless in Paramus, NJ. His tenure was a mere stepping stone as he later took a position at Antenna Wireless in Jersey City. This gave Mike the opportunity to flourish professionally while remaining closer to home where he could make his imprint on his hometown. It is no surprise that during his employment with Antenna Wireless, he was promoted several times and forged strong bonds with his superiors and colleagues.
Mike’s life was falling neatly into place. He was at the beginning stages of a promising career in the field of mobile technology and had moved into his family’s first house on Randolph Avenue with Nia after years of dating. Although a native of South Jersey, Nia was willing to build a life with Mike in Jersey City, as she was immensely supportive of his mission to impact his community through outreach and community involvement. Mike would later ask for Nia’s hand in marriage on vacation in Mexico the winter of 2009.
Together, they celebrated their engagement with family and friends on April 4, 2010, the night of their untimely death.
Nia Haqq, 25, was a blessing to all who came in contact with her. She was a ray of sunshine in the lives of many; you could always catch her smiling as she brought light to any situation or room that she entered. Nia loved peer leadership and minority mentoring as it presented an outlet for her to help younger classmen.
It was always self-fulfilling for her to know that she could be the older student that her younger peers could confide in with their problems. Through her aspirations of becoming a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Nia developed close personal relationships throughout the years with members of the Zeta Sigma Chapter at TCNJ. Her interest was sparked from her grandmother, Khalida Haqq, who is a member of Epsilon Upsilon Omega Chapter. Her friendship’s within the chapter is how she later came to meet Michael Muchioki, the love of her life.
Nia graduated from TCNJ, class of 2007, with a Bachelors Degree in Interactive Multimedia.
As a child, Haqq wanted to be a geneticist. As she got older she realized that science was not her calling. Nia would ultimately become a Associate Producer for MTV Kids and Family Division. She started as a freelancer and moved up quickly, following her passion for design and arts. She creates the mobile games and manages the mobile site of Nickelodeon.
It was by seeing how hard her mom worked to make ends meet that Nia learned that "even when you're tired, you still gotta make moves," said Majeeda Haqq, Nia's Mom.
Having returned from their engagement party in New Brunswick, MikeNia had just parked their sports utility vehicle when they were approached by a man and two women, officials and family members share. In a botched car-jacking attempt, MikeNia were tragically shot outside of their Randolph Avenue home, just one night after their engagement party at Delta's Restaurant in New Brunswick, N.J.
About 1,500 friends, family members, and mourners of both Nia and Mike filled the Newark Symphony Hall to celebrate their life. To celebrate Haqq's favorite color, her best friend since the third grade, Shakira Farrior, sent text and Facebook messages to all attendees requesting that they wear purple. Many of Haqq's friends wore purple flowers in their hair, while many of the young men wore lavender dress shirts or ties.
Friends describe the couple as inseperable. Successful, ambitious, out-going, spontaneous, loving, humble and giving are just a few words that describe the temperament and loving nature of these two beautiful individuals. They traveled the world together, partied, appreciated life and the people they loved. After the service, her mother said,
"When I was out picking a dress for this, I saw a mother with her daughter, and I cried. But, for those short 25 years of Nia's life, she lived. She traveled, she went to Paris, Switzerland, Germany and the islands. She always did something. She was my homie, I was a young mother and we had a very open relationship. We talked freely. There was never a time where she could not come to speak to me, no passing judgment. We would talk and I would advise her. Yeah, she was a mommy's girl."
Family and friends continue to support The LoveMikeNia Foundation, which now includes civic leaders, local officials, and board members. The foundation is rooted by the hope that "change by example" can bring more unity and peace in our communities.
In 2011, the foundation awarded two high school students with a $1,500 gift that will contribute towards their college educations. These students will attend The College of New Jersey and New Jersey Institute of Technology.
"We have so far raised enough money to sustain the foundation for the next five years," Simpson said over the phone, "but we want to expand so we can give more scholarships to more students in the name of Mike and Nia."
When conducting the interviews, we try to ask questions that will let us know which candidate is most in tune with Mike and Nia's, the foundation's goals," Simpson shares.
On April 7, 2012, The LoveMikeNia Foundation scholarship luncheon will also award two more scholarships to local students. General information and tickets can be purchased here.
On April 8, the 2nd annual candlelight vigil will be held on the sidewalk where Mike and Nia were tragically taken away from us.
The story of Mike and Nia is one that endures, thanks to Kenny Simpson and support from 9 active board members. The Love MikeNia Foundation, Inc. received 501c3 designation in June 2010.
The LoveMikeNia Foundation Scholarship Award was inspired by the life and leadership of Michael Muchioki and Nia Haqq.
AnythingUrban will dedicate necessary resources to keep their memory alive through action and activism. As we conduct public events throughout the year, a portion of our proceeds will support The LoveMikeNia Foundation.
Please find information about both The LoveMikeNia Foundation, Inc. via the links below. Please support the scholarship fund, follow upcoming events and share this message in keeping their memory alive.
About the President
Kenneth graduated with a BS Civil Engineering degree from New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark, NJ. A fraternity member of Alpha Phi Alpha, Simpson is a bridge engineer for the New Jersey Transit, a Board of Director of the Paterson Task Force, and has been recently appointed by the mayor of Paterson, NJ to serve as a commissioner on the Historical Preservation Commission.
As President of the LoveMikeNia Foundation, Inc.(2010) a fully recognized 501c3 Scholarship & Community Service organization created in memory of Michael Muchioki and Nia Haqq, Simpson has dedicated his life to serve and honor the legacy of MikeNia.
Re: ESSENCE.COM Photo Gallery: Nia Haqq and Mike Muchioki
Re: Enough is Enough: Nia Haqq and Mike Muchioki (unheard-voices.com)