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A Regular School Day Turned into Celebrating Full-Ride Scholarships to the George Washington University for 10 D.C. High School Students

Sakiya Walker SJT
William Atkins/GW

GW’s Prize Patrol Traveled to Eight Schools Across Washington, D.C.

March 17, 2016
Kurie Fitzgerald: [email protected], 202-994-6461 (w), 202-507-3373 (c)
Maralee Csellar: [email protected], 202-994-7564 (w), 202-207-7396 (c)
WASHINGTON (March 17, 2016)—Hard work paid off for 10 academically talented D.C. high school students on Thursday when the George Washington University scholarship team, led by GW President Steven Knapp, hand-delivered acceptance letters and full-ride scholarships during a whirlwind trip across four D.C. wards. 
“This is my favorite day every year,” Dr. Knapp said. “We just surprised 10 students in eight different schools with the news that the cost of their college education will be fully covered. And beyond what it does for these particular students, we hope it also sends the message to students all across this great capital city that college is a possibility for their future.”
Throughout the day, the GW scholarship team—comprised of Dr. Knapp, George the mascot and admissions staff—covertly entered high school classrooms and auditoriums across the city to surprise students with full-ride scholarships to GW. As some of the students got the news, they became emotional when they realized that they would get a full ride to GW. 
For more than 25 years, GW has opened the door to higher education to high school students in D.C. through the university’s Stephen Joel Trachtenberg Scholarship (SJT) Program. The GW –SJT Scholarship Program provides academically exceptional students with full-ride scholarships that cover tuition, room, board, books and fees. The program has awarded scholarships to more than 160 students since the program began in 1989. The graduation rate for participants in the program is approximately 90 percent.
This year’s scholarship winners are: 
  • Carlos Lopez Sanchez of Columbia Heights Education Campus (Ward 1) discovered a passion for engineering at 7 and plans to pursue an engineering degree. A member of the debate and robotics clubs, he immigrated to the United States by himself from Guatemala at 16. 
  • Md Ahammed of Columbia Heights Education Campus (Ward 1) grew up farming in Bangladesh. He is an apprentice at the National Building Museum and intends to pursue a degree in computer engineering. 
  • Lisa Le of Bell Columbia Heights Education Campus (Ward 1) tutors middle school students in math and will use this interest in numbers to pursue a business degree in accounting. Numbers aside, her passion for literature led her to be the first place D.C. winner in the Library of Congress’ Letters About Literature contest. 
  • Asia Jones of Benjamin Banneker Academic High School (Ward 1) is a member of D.C.’s Youth Advisory Council and volunteers at the National Museum of Natural History. She has conducted research on bacteria’s growing immunity to antibiotics and plans to continue her interest in medicine as a pre-med student.  
  • Sakiya Walker of Duke Ellington School of the Arts (Ward 1) is active in debate and her school’s student government association and aspires to attend medical school.  
  • Adel Hassen of School Without Walls (Ward 2) helped coordinate the 2015 D.C. STEM Fair and is currently conducting research devoted to uncovering the truth of the Super Bowl’s economic impact. With his interest in education and economics, he intends to study mathematics.
  • Daniel Nguyen of Capital City Public Charter School (Ward 4) is the co-captain of the robotics team and senior class president. He was motivated to focus on his academics in hopes of being nominated for a SJT scholarship after serving as a translator for the family of a former SJT scholarship winner.
  • Mikias Gebremeskel of Roosevelt High School (Ward 4) will pursue a pre-med degree because he wants to offer improved healthcare to underserved regions. He interned at the Children’s National Medical Center and is a peer leader for the Young Women’s Project.
  • Nathan Hanshew of Washington Latin Public Charter School (Ward 4) wants to pursue a career in medicine and has already jump-started his career as a cadet member of the Wheaton Volunteer Rescue Squad and is an emergency responder for the Montgomery County First Aid Unit.
  • Jarid Shields of Eastern Senior High School (Ward 6) participated in an exchange program to Japan to further her interest in Japanese anime and will pursue her other interest in biology in college. 
“These exceptional young scholars will no doubt have a powerful impact both in and out of the classroom,” said Karen Stroud Felton, dean of admissions at GW. “We are excited and proud for them to join the GW community.”
GW selects students based on high school academic performance, strength of curriculum, recommendations, leadership qualities, community service, extracurricular activities and achievements and standardized test scores, should they choose to submit them under the university’s new test-optional policy.  
Students are nominated by their high school counselors and then participate in an interview process before being chosen. All D.C. residents graduating from an accredited high school in the District – public, charter or private – are eligible to receive the scholarship. The scholarships are renewed annually based upon satisfactory academic progress at the university.
A University Focus on Excellence and Access 
This merit-based scholarship program expands on GW’s connections with students from the District. At the public magnet School Without Walls on GW’s Foggy Bottom Campus, students can pursue associate degrees from GW while still in high school. GW also participates in D.C. College Application Week, which is part of a national effort to increase the number of first-generation and low-income students who pursue a postsecondary education.
This long-standing program also complements the initiatives the university has undertaken in the last year to improve access to a college education for high-achieving students from all backgrounds, including a July 2015 announcement that the university would no longer require most undergraduate applicants to submit SAT or ACT test scores in response to recommendations from the university’s Task Force on Access and Success. The task force was formed in January 2014 after Dr. Knapp participated in a White House summit on college opportunity
Other new college access initiatives include: 
  • District Scholars Award, a grant launched in December 2015 that will expand college access to District of Columbia high school students to ensure that accepted D.C. students from families with annual household incomes at or below $75,000 can attend GW.
  • A partnership with The Posse Foundation, a nationwide college access and youth leadership development program offering full-tuition leadership scholarships to exceptional or top Atlanta-area public high school graduates.
  • A partnership with the nonprofit organization Say Yes to Education to provide full-tuition scholarships for outstanding public high school students from participating chapters in New York and North Carolina whose annual family income is at or below $75,000. 
Multimedia Resources 
  • High-resolution photos of the students


access code: SJT2016

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