When Michael Prather, a senior at Woodson High School, walked into a college application and preparation workshop Wednesday morning, he had no idea that he would be presented with a full-ride scholarship to GW just minutes after the workshop began.
University President Thomas LeBlanc, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Ben Toll, D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Lewis Ferebee, the George mascot and Prather’s family entered the staged workshop to present Prather his all-expenses-paid award. Prather was the only Woodsen student to be awarded the Stephen Joel Trachtenberg Scholarship – an annual scholarship GW provides to 10 D.C.-area high school seniors.
“Now it’s all me,” Prather said. “It’s 100 percent all me. This scholarship was kind of on me, I had help, but whatever I do from here on out is on me, and it’s going to lead to shaping my future.”
He said he owes his success to his “village” of close family and friends and is looking to pursue a major in computer science starting in the fall.
The scholarship, created in 1989 to attract D.C. high school students to GW, pays for each student’s tuition, room and board, books and fees. The gift was renamed the Stephen Joel Trachtenberg Scholarship in 1999 after President Emeritus Stephen Joel Trachtenberg.
Prather said he realized while researching colleges to apply to that GW offered high school students options to relieve stress while applying, like not requiring students to submit ACT or SAT scores, which placed the University high on his list of desired schools. He said football and track athletes, like himself, don’t always have the chance to succeed in higher education, but a well-rounded student will always move up.
“Football is a sport where a lot of the guys that are the best athletes don’t always make it, but the best people do,” Prather said. “So once you realize that and just give it your best, no matter what, you’ll be fine.”
LeBlanc said one of the best parts of his job is personally bestowing the scholarships upon each student. This was his third year handing out the award.
“The Stephen Joel Trachtenberg Scholarship is a real sign of commitment the George Washington University has to our community,” he said.
Michael Alston, Prather’s father, said “multiple” family members drove from South Carolina to watch his son receive the award.
“I wanted to make sure that he had a positive influence and people who can push him,” Alston said. “We just want him to be great and he’s doing that. He’s setting the standard for himself and for a sister coming up behind him.”
Alanna Prather-Augustus, Prather’s mother, said she broke down in tears when officials told her Prather received the full-ride.
“He deserves it because he worked hard, he pressed, he kept going and listened to what we had to say, even though we got on his nerves most of the time,” Prather-Augustus said. “You know, he always kept pushing and never gave up.”
Lauren Sforza contributed reporting.