By Nigel Boys
Even if you are born into an impoverished family and don’t have a father around while you are growing up, it doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve academic excellence, as one graduate from Benjamin Banneker Academic High, Washington, D.C. did by being accepted by 5 Ivy League universities.
The underprivileged, but determined young man, Avery Coffey, is now on his way to Harvard University and his story is famous throughout the Internet, but that’s not the end of his claim to fame. He also received the Gates Millennium Scholarship, which was set up with a $1 billion grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation 15 years ago.
The scholarship means that Coffey won’t have to worry about financial resources during his time at university, because the fund pays for all his college fees and helps him on his way to earning a doctorate by paying some of the graduate school fees.
However, Coffey is not the only Banneker student to receive a scholarship award from the Gates foundation. Jide Omekam, a fellow student of Coffey, was also named a Gates Millennium Scholar, making it two students in the same year receiving scholarships from Gates, an achievement only a few U.S. schools have attained.
According to eighteen-year-old Omekam, who is going on to study economics and computer science at Brown University, it came as a bit of a surprise to realize that he was now set for his PhD. He added, jokingly, that he might become the next Steve Jobs.
However, the two young graduates are not big headed about their success. They attribute most of their fortune to the good teachers at Banneker and the school’s reputation for helping students bring out the best in themselves. Every one of Banneker’s students who stick it out from ninth grade to high school graduation is accepted into colleges.
Omekam went on to say that since he is the first-born child in his family, there is no room for failure, because to fail would be to set a bad example for his younger siblings. He adds that this fact and Banneker’s Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses have driven him on to success.
Coffey accredits his success to his mother’s determination to get him educated. He adds that before he even entered kindergarten, she used to make him practice multiplication and division and he hopes that one day he will become the chief executive of a Fortune 500 company.