18-year-old Princess Barge recalls the moment she set a goal for herself in her first year of high school to earn more than $1 million in scholarship money. Her dreams became a reality this year when she earned $3 million and was accepted to 45 universities nationwide, including John Hopkins University.

Barge said she began applying for scholarships during her sophomore year. She used social media to research the best options.

“During quarantine, I would go on TikTok and look up scholarships,” she said. 

There she learned about QuestBridge, a nonprofit based in California that helps connect high-achieving, low-income students to leading colleges and other opportunities. She said she applied to almost 50 different scholarships through the QuestBridge program.

Barge has a hard-working and determined mindset to thank for her achievements. The high school senior has a 99% weighted GPA and is an IB, AP, and gifted student. She’s heavily involved in extracurricular activities at school, including being the school’s wrestling program manager, a pre-med club member, and many more. The 18-year-old has research experience with Grady Hospital and works in the medical field, shadowing physicians.

However, Barge said another critical reason she believes she was able to earn such a copious amount of money was thanks to the competitive and encouraging environment at school. According to her, Westlake High School nurtures a desire to pursue higher education.  

“I think it’s just our school’s culture,” she said.

Last year, Westlake student Makenzie Thompson earned $1.3 million in scholarships. Many other students, including current Westlake high school senior Daya Brown, have also made millions in scholarships.

She has advice for other BIPOCs who want to earn scholarships but may need clarification about where to start. She wants to encourage others to follow their passions and broaden their resumes to help them stand out.

“As a freshman, join whatever club interests you, she said. “Explore your options at first and see how you can use those things to help yourself, whether it’s volunteering or trying to get into research projects or whatever interests you.”

She said African American females could find many scholarships catered to them online and recommends looking for scholarships catered to their interests rather than applying to the most popular ones.

Princess Barge will attend Rice University for her undergraduate degree, double majoring in Biological Sciences and Spanish and minoring in Political Science. Her ultimate goal is to become a trauma surgeon.

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