An intimate setting of family and faculty assembled at the early break of day on April 28 to salute the remarkable accomplishments of three students at the New Schools at Caver whose hard work has secured their financial means for higher education.
Atlanta Public Schools seniors Aquantis Clemmons (Carver STEAM Academy), Destiny Hudson (Carver Early College High School) and Annie Ware (Carver Early College High School) have all been awarded the prestigious Gates Millennium Scholarship (Gates), a 1.6 billion dollar grant initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to provide one hundred percent, continual financial support to its recipients from undergraduate through doctoral degrees.
This distinction is noteworthy due to the highly competitive application process, of which this year boasted 51,000 applicants nationwide. Carver’s three recipients stand among 750 seniors chosen, nine of which are APS graduating seniors.
APS Superintendent Lisa N. Herring stood among the proud attendees and congratulated the scholars with words of affirmation as well as encouragement to remain steadfast on their current course.
“It is without question a joy for us to celebrate and honor you in your academic pursuits, in the beauty of your presence, and in the brilliance of your mind,” said Dr. Herring. “This moment right now proves more than ever that your intellectual property will take you any and every where you choose to go.”
The road to the Gates was not an easy one as each had to overcome personal hardships and setbacks throughout their high school journey. Their shared experience of being from lower income communities accompanied by the competitive academic landscape and other challenges facing today’s youth made their accomplishments that more significant.
Carver Early College High School Principal, Christina Rogers, shared her admiration for their determination against all odds.
“I know the personal adversities that some of you have had to overcome, and I applaud you for staying the course,” said Rogers. “You, like your peers, experienced the woes of distance learning and you were focused. I appreciate you for not only accomplishing [this honor] for yourself, but for everyone else around you because [your peers] are looking at you for guidance on how they can be great.”
Andrew Fuller, Principal of Carver STEAM Academy High School, expressed remarks akin to Rogers’ as he recalled the steps Clemmons took to achieve the scholarship, as well as valedictorian and STAR student of his graduating class.
“I’m overwhelmed with pride,” said Fuller. “I know the adversity his family has gone through and what it means to come through the path that he came through— from Price Middle School to Carver STEAM Academy High School. To know that walk and to be elite in that walk is an inspiration, not only to me, but to the entire student body.”
Clemmons’ aspirations for the future are sure to be a continued source of inspiration as he plans to change the world as a leader in the field of robotics where there is limited diversity.
“I see myself working towards becoming an engineer and gaining as much knowledge as possible that I can grab and grasp,” said Clemmons. “I will be entering a field where it’s not really dominated by people that look like me, so I plan to create change by empowering those that do to enter those fields and bring diversity to [a place] where they are underrepresented.”
Being a change-leader is another commonality the three scholars share, as Hudson plans to attend the University of Michigan and engage in philanthropic endeavors that will directly benefit her community, while Ware plans to major in political science at Spellman College and ultimately become a member of the House of Representatives.
Winning the Gates Millennium Scholarship has forged a direct path to each of these pursuits and provides them with limitless academic opportunities.
“I didn’t know how I was going to pay [for college],” said Hudson. “This scholarship was going to determine where I go to school and Michigan was my first option, so to be able to go there and not have to worry about anything but my education it’s definitely like [a sigh of relief].”
Likewise, Ware is able to find solace in the fact that affording college will not be a burden and is encouraged in the knowledge that remaining committed and striving for excellence is a proven model for success, especially when you have someone who is willing to be a colaborer.
“Destiny and I both have put in a lot of work throughout our four years,” recalled Ware. “We’ve faced a lot of adversity and we got over a lot of obstacles. So, for it to actually pay off and to know that what we did mattered … it’s relieving, it’s validating, it’s so much.”
Hudson and Ware hold the titles of valedictorian and salutatorian of their class respectively, and like Clemmons, are proof of the growing standard the community will anticipate witnessing for future students at the New Schools at Caver.
“We are one Carver doing great things,” said Fuller. “When I think about what our community means and the grit that our kids model, whether you are at Carver STEAM or Carver Early College, we are producing elite scholars on this campus and it’s an amazing thing to be a part of.”