$1.3M Scholarship Winner Gives Tips to STEM students on How to Stand Out

Patience+Emotional Intelligence+Time Management= Success

During the pandemic, Daya Brown put the extra work to apply for scholarships while she was a high school sophomore. Brown, decided to research which universities she might like to attend when she graduated from Atlanta’s Westlake High School in May 2023 and devoted three hours a day over four months to filling out applications and searching for scholarships. Brown said she did not have to pay application fees because many colleges and universities waived them amid the pandemic, and her school counselors helped her to utilize admission price waivers. She was excited when her email inbox began to fill up with offers in September.


Of the 74 schools she’d applied to, she was accepted by 54, including Virginia State University, the University of MarylandSpelman CollegeOhio UniversityLouisiana State University and Loyola University Chicago. She also received more than $1.3 million in scholarship offers from the 54 schools. With endless choices in front of her, Daya Brown of Atlanta chose Duke University.

This exceptional student was part of IOScholarships Superheroes podcast providing recommendations to win scholarships and sharing the resources Black and Latino STEM students could be using and how they could stand out as a scholarship applicant.

How did you find scholarships?

When I told my high school counselor about my concern about having to pay for college, she directed me to scholarship platforms because they connect students’ aspirational job objectives, college major, and extracurricular activities. Your profile saves you time and makes the scholarship search easy by showing you the scholarships you qualify for.

The majority of the scholarships Daya won came from institutional scholarships, such as merit-based and presidential scholarships. She was also awarded independent scholarships such as, the National Society of High School Scholars. She is now a Gates Millennium Scholarship Finalist, and she plans to continue applying for non-institutional scholarships until the Gates Scholarship decision is made.

What was the determining factor in your decision to attend Duke University?

 Duke University, being a merit based scholarship university, offered a considerable award that aided her decision. Duke University not only felt like home, but the incredible support from Duke Alumni and students was a determining factor.

Did you have any counseling/mentors to help you through your journey and application process? Throughout my college application process, I was fortunate to have several people who guided me. I was fortunate with excellent mentors such as Mr. Moore, Westlake High School College and Career Coach. Also, Adams, the principal of Westlake High School, my mentors, Duke Alumni, and current students at both Duke and Harvard were really helpful.

Brown’s impressive achievement was earned through proper time management and good work ethic—things that her hard working mother (Farrah Brown, a real estate agent) and father (Olujimi Brown, a ministry consultant) instilled in her from an early age. 

In an article by The Washington Post, her mother Farrah shared that she’s “happy and relieved that the extra hours she spent with Daya at the kitchen table helping with homework assignments and offering time management tips have paid off.” 

What helped you stand out? I always convey a vulnerable narrative of who I am. No matter how many people tell you that you aren’t deserving, you are.

When applying for schools, Brown focused on highlighting her passion for the arts, as well as her accomplishments within these fields of interest. Besides having a knack for poetry and debate, the teen also started her own Atlanta-based production company called Elom & Co., which showcases a variety of creative works from young adults like films, music, and literature. 


Daya Brown Bio 

Greetings! My name is Daya E. Brown, a native of Atlanta, Georgia and is currently a prominent senior who will be graduating with International Baccalaureate Honors as one of the Top 25 scholars at Westlake High School as I hold leadership positions as the Class President. I will be attending Duke University in Fall of 2023 studying visual and media studies and policy journalism. As I aspire to continue my career in television and film as an director and or producer. 

During my senior year in high school, while being a finalist for the Gates Millennium Scholarship, I accumulated over $1.3 million in scholarships and over 50 college acceptances, and I have been featured on Good Morning America, The Washington Post, The Walt Disney Company, and numerous other media outlets. 

I am the CEO & Founder of Elom & Co. Production Company, an Atlanta-based production company that aims to be a catalyst for emerging creators. The purpose of Elom & Co. is to promote creative industries for young adults and teenagers for many years to come. As well as, I am the Co-Founder of The Scholar Social an non-profit organization and podcast building the bridge between the social and the intellectual.

I am a proud alumna of the Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project, where I had the privilege of debating debaters from all over the world as my partner and I advanced to the octa-finals.

I am an award-winning teen journalist for VOX ATL focusing on racial injustices, politics, and pieces dedicated towards Black women. With pieces with many prominent people such as Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, professors, and educators.

I also hold the title of an transformative spoken word artist, author, and film director. As I blend my passions for film and spoken word to create one-of-a-kind spoken word videos.

In the past few years, I have worked alongside Lynae Bogues, the past leading producer of HLN Morning Express and the Senior Vice President of UP TV Entertainment on the show, Butter + Brown. With my vibrant, courageous, and ambitious character I can indeed transform a room.

As well as, I have served on the Student Superintendent’s Advisory Council for the state of Georgia, National Honors Society, Co-President of BETA Club, 21st Century Leaders Member, Chick-Fil-A Leadership Member, and New Georgia Project Selection Panelist with Alicia Keys.

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$1.3M Scholarship Winner Gives Tips to STEM students on How to Stand Out