Congratulations are in order for Southwest Philadelphia native Akayla Brown who recently learned she’s been selected to become a Gates Scholar!
According to Philly Mag, the 18-year-old high school senior and entrepreneur was selected out of a pool of 300 students and 34,000 applicants nationwide to earn the prestigious scholarship award from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation — which is a highly selective, last-dollar scholarship for outstanding, minority, high school seniors from low-income households.
“When I got the letter I was in shock,” she told 6ABC Philadelphia. “I was shaking. I was jumping up and down, screaming.”
The news outlet reports that in addition to earning a full ride as a Gates Scholar, Brown has also been awarded many other presidential scholarships and now has more than $2 million in college offers.
Though she hasn’t announced her final decision yet, Brown has narrowed down her top three choices to Temple University, Villanova and Howard where she plans to major in international business.
As the boss of her own company, Brown runs a nonprofit organization called Dimplez 4 Dayz, which aims to “keep smiles on the faces and in the hearts and minds of my community members by doing whatever we have to do,” she tells Philly Mag.
According to 6ABC Philadelphia, she founded the youth-run organization when she was just 13-years-old, and has since used it as a beacon of light in her surrounding community.
“We extend a helping hand with back-to-school backpack events. We hosted a Courtyard En Blanc for homeless people in Philadelphia where we invited homeless people to come and we catered to them,” she says to Philly Mag. “We have all sorts of programs for the community, and all of our programs are led by youth. People my age.”
Brown’s ultimate goal is to use her college degree as the foundation she needs to expand her nonprofit and be a role model that can help inspire other young people her age.
“I want to be an example to my peers and to the next generation and show them that you can make anything you want become possible,” she shares with Philly Mag. “I want to incentivize kids. Now, I have a grant that has helped me start a workforce initiative for people 16 to 24. We help them build up résumés. We help them with attire for job interviews. If they want to get their CPR certification, we help them with that. I’m living my dream.”
Brown has applied to over 25 colleges and universities, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Ivy League schools such as Princeton and Yale. She plans to announce her final college decision on May 1.
Congratulations again to the young scholar!