Sallie Mae got you down? Worried about student loans? Well, that’s one problem Chicago teen Arianna Alexander doesn’t have. The straight A student with a 5.1 average due to extra credit, is heading to the University of Pennsylvania in the fall, and she won’t have to pay a dime. That’s because she was awarded over $3 million in scholarship money from a whopping 26 colleges and universities. Their loss is Penn’s gain as Alexander plans to study business with the hopes of opening several restaurants one day. She’s already working on the menus.
“It was a lot to take in. I received emails, letters. It was just like, ‘Come here, come here!’ They were bombarding me with all this information,” Arianna said.
Arianna hails from Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. She graduated with a 5.1 grade point average on a 4.0 scale.
She was accepted to 26 universities, including six Ivy League schools. Her scholarship offers total more than $3 million.
“I feel like it means I can afford college and I don’t have to worry about it. I feel like that’s an issue for a lot of people my age,” Arianna said.
Her father encouraged her, after another Kenwood student was offered more than $1 million in scholarships a few years ago.
“I planted the seed in Arianna’s mind that you can do the same thing. So when the process got started and a million was achieved, let’s go for two. I said let’s go for three and she did it,” said Pierre Alexander, Arianna’s father.
Arianna is the baby of the family. She has three older siblings.
“It was a big blessing, because I’ve already put three through college. Now I don’t have to worry too much about her,” Pierre said.
Arianna has also picked a school, thanks to Paul Brush, one of her teachers. She plans to attend University of Pennsylvania.
“He said, ‘Do you know about the Wharton School of Business?’ I said, ‘I have no idea what you’re talking about,'” Arianna said.
“As teachers, we have a big moment to play with the lives that we have in our classrooms,” Brush said.
Her family has also influenced her. Arianna recounted her dad’s words: “Work hard, pray on it, and don’t give up. No matter what happens, you did your best.”
“My wife and I have always stressed to her, if you do your best, you will be the best. So we try to make sure she upholds to that,” Pierre said.
“So as long as you work hard, I feel like there is always a way for you,” Arianna said.
Arianna was inspired to aim high with encouragement from her parents and seeing a previous Kenwood student awarded with about $1 million in scholarships.
“I planted the seed in Arianna’s mind that you can do the same thing,” her father Pierre Alexander told WLS.
“So when the process got started and a million was achieved, let’s go for two. I said let’s go for three and she did it,” he added.
One of the scholarships was the prestigious Gates Scholarship which offers qualified high school seniors a full, four-year ride. Bonus fun fact: Kenwood Academy is R. Kelly’s alma mater.