GW awarded nine D.C. public high school seniors full scholarships to attend the University beginning next year.
The Stephen Joel Trachtenberg Scholarship program has provided full scholarships, including funds for room and board and book expenses, for 93 D.C. public school seniors during the last 18 years. Three of the nine recipients receiving the offer earlier this month, Serena Wong, Kristin Smith and Marcus Hendricks, attend the School Without Walls high school located in the heart of the Foggy Bottom campus on G Street.
“It’s a really helpful program,” said Smith, who will graduate in the top 10 percent of her class. “It gives good students the opportunity to go to good schools.”
Smith’s college options include New York University, Boston University and Grinnell College. She is still waiting for a response from Georgetown and Harvard universities. Though she has yet to decide which school she will attend in the fall, Smith said the full scholarship was hard to ignore.
“I don’t know yet what school I’ll be attending – I’m still thinking,” Smith said. “Anybody’s dream school would be Harvard, but it’s a tough choice.”
Wong said she had to overcome obstacles in order to become the high-achiever she is today.
“I’m the first person in my family to attend college,” Wong said. “We don’t speak English at home, so since elementary school, it’s been really hard to acclimate to the culture.”
Wong, who is captain of her varsity lacrosse team and student body president, said her college choices include Columbia, Rice and Tufts universities. Despite these options, she said she will likely attend GW next fall because of the scholarship.
Like Wong and Smith, Hendricks has an impressive resume. He is chapter president of the National Society of Black Engineers and student body vice president. The ambitious senior is also a member of the varsity baseball team and formerly served as a congressional aide to D.C.’s House Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton.
The six other scholarship recipients are Samuel Collins Jr., Jimmy Gomez, Emily Persons and Minh Phan from Benjamin Banneker Academic High School; Emily Olmstead from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts; and Sesen Gidey from Woodrow Wilson Senior High School.
The University selected the students from the pool of 2007 applicants who also attend D.C. Public Schools. The selections were based on grade point average, standardized test scores and teacher recommendations.
Recently, the ineligibility of public charter school students has caused a slight stir in the education policy community.
“Charter schools are public schools, so to not include charter school students in the application process is in essence denying a percentage of public school students who could benefit from this opportunity as well,” said recent GW alumna Emily Cherniack, who is also a research associate at the Graduate School of Education and Human Development.
She stressed that District charter schools are no different from D.C. public schools when it comes to privilege.
While there are many public charter schools in D.C. today, they did not exist when the scholarship program began 18 years ago. In a statement from University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg’s office, expanding the program in the future has not been ruled out. The statement cited inadequate resources as the main reason for delaying such an expansion.
“We look forward to the day when we can expand the program,” the statement said. “We are working hard to endow the scholarships so that we can continue to offer this generous financial assistance to even more deserving District youth.”