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‘Just Kept Stacking Up Higher’: Black Georgia Teen Earns Nearly $15 Million In College Scholarships, the Most of Any Student In the US

From serving as vice president of her class to being on the cheerleading squad, Madison Crowell has worked to show that she is multifaceted. 

“I’ve been on varsity cheer for two years. I’ve been in the National Honor Society for two years as well as student council,” Crowell told Atlanta Black Star during a phone interview earlier this month. 

“I’ve been an ambassador of Liberty County High School, which is just showing new kids around and making sure that they feel welcome as they get settled into a new area. And I was a former managing editor of my school’s yearbook, as well as a former head basketball manager.”

Georgia Teen Shares How She Earned Nearly $15 Million In Scholarships: 'Sky is Not The Lim
Madison Crowell has received nearly $15 million in scholarships. (Courtesy of Melissa Langley)

Beyond completing internships, Crowell has also volunteered in her school community in Hinesville, which is about 42 miles from Savannah. She has served as Mayor Pro Tem of the youth council, a replica of the city’s executive branch. Her efforts have put her in a unique position for her future.

“I just want everybody to know that the sky is not the limit and that you can shoot farther than the stars and the planets. Everything is possible if you put your mind to it.”

The 17-year-old’s work ethic has helped her garner $14.7 million in college scholarships, landing her the top spot of the most awarded in the country. She has also been accepted into 231 colleges and universities. She surpassed New Orleans student Dennis Barnes’ who earned a record-breaking $10 million in 2023, according to CBS News.

Crowell and her mother used Google Sheets to keep track of the schools and scholarships she would apply to, which they call the “War Board.”  As she was accepted and the scholarships awarded, the digital spreadsheet was automatically calculated.

“It was a little bit overwhelming at first,” Crowell said. “The money just kept stacking up higher, higher, higher… . It’s not as daunting as it was a couple of months ago, but it’s definitely an experience.”

Crowell’s journey was challenging, though. 

During her high school experience, she had to adjust to starting her first year virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic. She also had to overcome grief from her grandmother passing away and her mother, Melissa Langley, undergoing a kidney transplant. As of recently, her father was also deployed. 

But it’s her mother’s love and guidance that have helped her overcome those challenges: “I think she just keeps reminding me of the constant goal of graduating, not even just graduating high school, both graduating college and pursuing the career of my dreams and making sure that I know that nothing is impossible.”

She continued, “There’s been a lot of ups and downs, but I’m really grateful for the experiences that I’ve had in high school.”

Crowell will cross the stage at Liberty County High School on Saturday with a 3.85 GPA. She plans to attend High Point University in North Carolina, where she will major in exercise sciences and hopes to earn a doctorate in physical therapy. 

For Langley, her daughter’s success is a blessing and a dream fulfilled. 

“I was amazed when it got to a million dollars. But this amount, I cry every day. People probably say something wrong with me,” Langley said of her daughter. “She is now traveling to schools within our district and in neighboring districts in other states as well, trying to inspire students, particularly African American students, so that they can see themselves outside of the current situation.”

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