D.C. resident Curtis Lawrence III is a prime example of what starting excellence early looks like. When he was just 14, Lawrence graduated from DC’s School Without Walls, a magnet high school, and started taking college classes through a special program at George Washington University.
Now at the age of 16, he is on his way to college with over $1.6M in scholarships in the bag.
The other good news? Lawrence chose an HBCU for the next chapter of his educational journey–Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University.
“First I started thinking about what schools had good biology programs,” the 16-year-old told FOX 5 DC. “Then I started looking specifically at HBCUs because I wanted the HBCU experience and to be surrounded by the people who are just like me and who are not only Black but academically talented.”
As if graduating high school at 14 wasn’t impressive enough, Lawrence also took the SATs at age 10 and has studied Mandarin.
Over the past few years, some HBCUs have reported record increases in student enrollment. In 2019, one-third of HBCUs reported increases in applications and student enrollment due to the political climate, according to research by the Rutgers University Center for Minority Serving Institutions.
“This has been a really long process that kind of started in seventh grade as we were thinking about college prep,” said Lawrence’s mother, Malene Lawerence. “His goal is to get a Ph.D., so we kind of helped him plan backward.”
Lawrence was accepted to some of the nation’s top universities including George Washington University, Hampton, Harvard, Howard, Morehouse, Morgan, North Carolina A&T, UC Berkeley, University of Chicago, and Yale.
Both of Lawrence’s parents are educators with two academically gifted sons, and in a 2019 interview with WTOP News, his mother, Malene Lawrence, talked about the interest in paleontology Lawrence has had since he was a toddler.
“He’s loved dinosaurs and paleontology literally since he was one. And some people think, ‘Oh, your kid is going to grow out of that.’ But you foster that love of whatever it is,” said Malene.
Lawrence plans to double major in biology and computer science at FAMU. His parents say their emphasis on education has been helpful to their children’s achievements.
“We’ve taught them from an early age that education is key to opening up the opportunities and having access to things that they want to life,” his father, Curtis Lawrence, told FOX 5 DC. “Since they were born, we’ve given them those experiences to make sure they know the importance of education.
Have you subscribed to theGrio’s new podcast “Dear Culture”? Download our newest episodes now!
TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire, and Roku. Download theGrio today!