April’s Inspiration of the Month: Daya Brown

Daya Brown is a name that an increasing number of people are beginning to recognize for her intelligence, dedicated work ethic, and the fact that she was accepted by 54 colleges and received $1.3 million in scholarship offers!

Brown is my inspiration for April for all her accomplishments and determination to reach her goals – especially because most of her journey was during unprecedented global uncertainty. As a Freshman at Atlanta, Georgia’s Westlake High School, Brown said she considered becoming a lawyer before being introduced to Westlake Out Loud, a poetry performance group for students. She then realized she wanted to embrace her creativity to empower people and heal the world.

As a sophomore in 2020, the world changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and students began completing classes via Zoom. At this time, Brown started researching what universities would be a good fit for her to pursue higher education. Her list grew to about 70 viable options, and when it was time to apply, she spent three hours a day over four months filling out applications and searching for scholarships.

In September 2021, Brown also started an Atlanta-based production company, Elom & Co., which aims to catalyze emerging creators and promote poetry, music, art, and film created by teens and young adults. She also co-founded a podcast, “The Scholar Social,” to create a space for students of color to discuss essential topics, including race, religion, and parental relationships. As if this was not enough of a packed schedule, Brown also contributed poetry and opinion pieces to VOX ATL, an Atlanta nonprofit that posts stories and videos created by teens.

Brown was eventually accepted by 54 out of the 70 schools she’d applied to, including Virginia State University, the University of Maryland, Spelman College, Ohio University, Louisiana State University, and Loyola University Chicago. She also, impressively, received over $1.3 million in scholarship offers from the schools.

The oldest of two, Brown said she learned good study habits and a strong work ethic from her mother, Farrah Brown, a real estate agent, and her dad, Olujimi Brown, a former preacher now a ministry consultant. Her tireless efforts have set her up for success after graduation in May 2023. Brown said it was a great feeling to be recognized for her hard work, and she is thankful for the journey that led her to where she is today.

Brown has accepted a one-year financial aid scholarship from Duke University in Durham, N.C., where she plans to major in visual and media studies this fall. She chose Duke after visiting the campus because she said it “felt like home.” Brown is also a finalist for The Gates Scholarship, which will be awarded to 300 outstanding minority high school students this summer. If she is granted it, she won’t need to reapply for additional financial aid scholarships each year.

Now, Brown has made it her mission to help her peers and other students accomplish what she has. Brown said her advice is to start early, focus on schools with the top programs for their majors, apply for many scholarships, and don’t take shortcuts – because there are none. Time, energy, and dedication are required to position yourself best to succeed in higher education. Brown also plans to participate in a free workshop with Fulton County Schools this summer to share tips about her college research and application process.

As someone who has never pursued higher education in the traditional sense, I am always supportive of and impressed by those who never waver from accomplishing their goals in formal institutions. Brown’s story is one of triumph, perseverance, and a compassionate commitment to give back to the individuals and communities who need it. Brown is a perfect example of how people can achieve personal success and turn around and lend a helping hand to the communities and people around them.

Read more about Daya Brown’s accomplishments and story here.

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