A Florida teenager has hit the academic jackpot, receiving more than $4 million in scholarship offers and 27 acceptance letters from some of the nation’s top schools.
Jonathan Walker must now choose between attending Harvard University, Yale University, Stanford University and the University of Pennsylvania, among his other choices. Whenever he lands, the 18-year-old plans to pursue a career helping others.
“So, I’ve just really been trying to let it soak in just how much of a blessing it is that I got into all of these colleges,” Walker said. “So just like sitting back smelling the roses.”
Walker has a head start on obtaining his bachelor’s degree. The senior at Rutherford Senior High in Panama City has already started earning college credits. He is enrolled in the International Baccalaureate Program. It allows high school juniors and seniors to complete college-level classes while still being enrolled in high school. Walker also maintains a 4.85 GPA and is active on the football team.
Walker has kick-started his career in engineering as well by inventing medical devices. He has created a Braille system that he’s seeking a patent for, an air filter to turn gas emissions into oxygen and a pill dispenser to keep track of medicine.
Walker’s braille invention won an award in June 2021 at an event sponsored by Texas Instruments. Rutherford Principal Coy Pilson said at the time, “The way he thinks … I can see him someday being like an Elon Musk or a Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. His mind makes connections that most folks don’t think about.”
While that’s an impressive group of tech entrepreneurs, Walker wants to be the modern day Black inventor other young Black students can look up to. “One of the things that also bothers me … when you think of the top tech guys in the industry, there is not many Black people who you think of in that tech entrepreneur sphere,” Walker said. “As a child, me looking up to them, I’m not looking up to people that look like me.”
Walker has big dreams on how he will utilize his love for engineering and entrepreneurship.
He told local station WMBB this month, “I’ve always loved creating devices to help people, so I definitely want to further that. I’m looking at majoring in electrical engineering and possibly biomedical engineering to hopefully develop medical technology in order to help disadvantaged communities that have health problems.”
He was accepted by every school he applied to and is hoping to personalize his college degree to match his aspirations. Walker wants to study engineering, computer science, business and psychology and start his own business.
“Jonathan has not been a typical student,” said Cathy Rutland, who coordinates the advanced learning programs at Rutherford High.
Walker attributes his success to his family, who he said taught him to be “passionate about something.”
His advice to other students is to: “Keep grinding, no matter what.”