ALBANY, Ga. - A 17-year-old high school student in Georgia has applied to almost 100 colleges and universities and was accepted into half of them — earning more than $600,000 in scholarships.
Kenyari Sawyer, a senior at Monroe Comprehensive High School in Albany, Georgia, said she began applying in August. She’s been accepted to 48 of the 92 schools to which she applied.
"My first two colleges I applied to was Cleveland and Mississippi, and I didn't think I was going to get accepted into those. Then I was like, 'Hey, this is how it goes. It's an easy process and I just started going from there," Sawyer told FOX 31.
The 4.0 student also received over half a million dollars in scholarship money from several schools, including Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana ($40,000 total, $10,000 per year), Mary Baldwin University in Staunton, Virginia ($88,000 total, $22,000 per year), Notre Dame of Maryland University in Baltimore, Maryland ($80,000 total, $20,000 per year, Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona ($62,000 total, $15,500 per year), and Jacksonville University in Jacksonville, Florida ($116,000 total, $29,000 per year), the local station reported.
College application fees can add up, particularly if a student has applied to nearly 100 institutions. The average cost of an application in the U.S. is roughly $44, according to a study by US News. Sawyer told FOX 31 that she did not pay any fees due to application waivers, which are offered to students who are eligible based on financial need.
Many colleges urge any student who feels paying the application fee would cause a financial hardship to request a waiver through the Common App, a platform that helps streamline the process and is accepted by more than 900 schools.
Meanwhile, Sawyer is a dual enrollment student at Albany State University — taking multiple advanced placement (AP) classes — while also balancing soccer and her life outside the classroom. She’s the oldest of three children and said her biggest inspiration to succeed is her mother, who was unable to attend college after getting pregnant.
"My mom is proud because I stopped her from going to college when she got pregnant with me," Sawyer told the local news station. "And so now that she’s seeing that I'm getting out, doing something that she was not able to do, makes her proud."
Kenyari Sawyer, 17, is pictured holding several college acceptance letters. (Photo credit: FOX 31)
Sawyer said she hopes to attend one of her top five schools and study criminal justice in an effort to eventually become a lawyer.
"I want to get out, find my own law firm, but first I want to work up under someone, so I can get a feel of it and I want to become a defense attorney and then continue to level up my ranking," she said.
The teenager said her best advice to classmates is to "not be scared and go for what you want."
"Do not be scared and go for what you want. If you want it, go for it, and do not let people talk down on you. You said I can't do this, but I can, and I'm going to show you," Sawyer said.
This story was reported from Cincinnati.