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16-Year-Old D.C. College Student Chooses HBCU After Being Accepted to 14 Colleges, Including Harvard and Yale: ‘I Want to Have the…Experience’

A 16-year-old D.C. native is kickstarting his early college career at an HBCU after being accepted to numerous schools and receiving millions of dollars in scholarship money.

Curtis Lawrence III was admitted to 14 colleges, among them some top universities in the nation, including George Washington University, Hampton University, Harvard University, Howard University, Morehouse College, Morgan State University, North Carolina A&T State University, University of California-Berkeley, the University of Chicago and Yale University, reported WTTG-TV FOX5. He has also received $1.6 million in scholarships for the fall semester.

The teen recently announced he will attend Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, a Historically Black College and University, where he will double major in biology and computer science.

Lawrence said that he was specifically pursuing HBCUs when considering his pick of schools.

“First, I started off thinking about what schools had good biology programs,” he told FOX5. “I started looked specifically at HBCUs because I want to have the HBCU experience, and be surrounded by the people that are just like me who are not only Black but academically talented.”

Lawrence’s decision is noteworthy during a time when HBCUs are experiencing a troubling decrease in enrollment, with, in 17 years, 2019 being the second-lowest rate regarding enrollment, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics.

According to the 2020 report, “more than 6,000 fewer students attended the 101 Black colleges and universities in the U.S. during the 2018-19 school year,” reported NBC News. The total number of students attending was 291,767, down from the 298,134 in the previous year, and the lowest total since 2001 when HBCUs had a population of 289,985 students.

Lawrence’s mother, Malene Lawrence, told FOX5 that preparing for college has been a lengthy process that they began planning for when her son was only in seventh grade.

“This has been a really long process that started back in seventh grade thinking about college prep,” said Malene Lawrence.

“His goal is to get a PHD. And so we kinda helped him plan backwards and said, ‘These are the top schools in paleontology that offer PHD programs.’ ”

Lawrence’s parents are both instructors and have two “academically gifted” sons.  His father said that raising his two Black boys has been a labor of love, and that their particular focus has always been on the significance of education.

“We’ve taught them from an early age that education is key to opening up the opportunities and having access to things that they want in life,” Curtis Lawrence Jr told FOX5.

“Since they were born pretty much we’ve done that with them and gave them those experiences and those words so that they know the importance of education.”

Needless to say, Curtis Lawrence is overjoyed about his elder son’s college prospects, and is proud of his exceptional achievements.

“I am giddy inside knowing that all of these colleges and universities are after him and want him to be a part of their college experience,” he said.

While Lawrence can boast an impressive acceptance rate, FAMU won’t make for the first time he’s taken part in college studies. He began his freshman year of college as one of the youngest full-time students at George Washington University at only 14 years old. Lawrence was dually enrolled at School Without Walls and George Washington University — both in Washington, D.C. — WTOP reported. He took the SAT at 10 years old, and learned Mandarin while he studied abroad in China.

“He’s one of the most humble kids I have met. Being in college at 14, for him, he sees that as normal life,” his father said.

Despite all of the excitement over his college decision, Lawrence is relieved that the application process is over, and is prepared for the next phase of his academic career.

“I am very excited. It has been a very wild trip, I guess I can say, applying to all of these colleges, and then waiting very anxiously for decisions. So now that it’s all over and I’ve been accepted, I’m very, very happy,” Lawrence told FOX5.

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