15-Year-Old Aspiring Scientist Who Skipped Two Grades, Earned 4.5 GPA Is Unable to Secure Scholarship Money


After graduating high school two years early with an impressive 4.5 GPA, a 15-year-old prodigy from Greensboro, N.C. was on the fast track to college — a dream come true.

His plans have seemingly hit a roadblock, however, after he said he applied to dozens of scholarships but hasn’t heard back from a single one.

“That’s really worrying me,” a disappointed Ishmale Powell told local station WFMY News. ” … I’m not sure how I’m going to pay for tuition or anything because I come from a single-parent home and it’s been rough.”

Powell graduated from Page High School earlier this month and was UNC-Charlotte bound,  where he planned to major in computer engineering and minor in aerospace engineering in the Fall. The high school grad, who skipped two grades and took high school-level courses when he was still in middle school, has dreams of becoming an astrophysicist. However, his academic prowess seemingly hasn’t been enough to bring in scholarship offers.

The lack of money is now threatening to derail his future.

“I have been always on my son real hard and trying to make sure he does the right thing,” said Shawn Powell, Ishmale’s dad. He said his son has $3000 in Pell Grant and $6000 from the UNC system for his first year of college. However, a fixed disability income has left him unable to afford the remaining $40,000 for room, board and other college fees.

“I’m trying not to think about the stuff now but it’s really real because he’s just walked across the stage,” the proud father said.

The family hasn’t lost all hope just yet. Powell said he’s still waiting to hear back from Say Yes to Education, which provides scholarships to public high school students. The teen said he applied for the scholarship back in November, but award letters are not scheduled to go out until July or August.

Even if he were to receive the funds, Powell would still be left in a bind because the scholarship only covers the difference in tuition — not the additional fees, WFMY reported. For now, the teen plans to attend UNC from home.

Donnie Turlington, the Interim Director of Say Yes of Guilford County, said it’s possible the teen’s age and the fact that he skipped Junior year may have played a role in him not receiving any scholarships. Turlington has since promised to look into Powell’s case and has already scheduled a meeting with the college-bound teen and his father.

“That’s a situation where we were in college and you have a student to fit into that category to give us a call,” he said. “High-performing students like him, we want to find a way that we can make sure we can break down the cost barriers involved with the college.”

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