Akayla Brown from Southwest Philadelphia is still in shock that her biggest dream came true.
- This is a great one. A high school senior from southwest Philadelphia is making us Philly proud.
- She's the recipient of a nationally renowned college scholarship, but it's her accomplishments outside the classroom that are leaving a lasting impact. Action News community journalist Ashley Johnson has her story.
AKAYLA BROWN: The experience was one-- I will remember that emotion forever. I always loved helping people. I always noticed it was issues with my community, and I knew that I was a strong speaker, always very much independent. When I got the letter I was in shock. I was shaking. I was jumping up and down, screaming.
ASHLEY JOHNSON: The William W. Bodine High School senior won the highly competitive Bill and Melinda Gates Scholarship, a full ride to the college of her choice.
AKAYLA BROWN: Dedication, discipline, hard work will get you where you want to go.
ASHLEY JOHNSON: Hard work certainly paid off. Akayla was selected as one of the 300 students out of more than 34,000 applicants across the country. The scholarship takes care of all costs-- tuition, room and board, even other personal costs for five years. She's already won many presidential scholarships and has more than $2 million in offers.
AKAYLA BROWN: Out of all the things I've got, this one is going to make the impact that I need.
ASHLEY JOHNSON: Akayla believes what made her stand out is her nonprofit called Dimples For Days which she started when she was 13. The youth-led organization hosts community events like turkey giveaways and beating the homeless.
AKAYLA BROWN: I always loved helping people. I always noticed it was issues with my community, and I knew that I was a strong speaker, always very much independent.
ASHLEY JOHNSON: Her principal says Akayla has always stood out as a natural leader, and they're elated to claim they helped produce a Gates scholar.
MICHELLE DAWSON: The whole staff and all of our students are proud of her. And it means so much to us, especially since we've been going through the pandemic. It's so great to have a bright spot.
ASHLEY JOHNSON: Akayla applied to more than 25 universities, including HBCUs and Ivy Leagues. She'll announce her final decision on May 1. She plans on continuing her nonprofit in college and majoring in international business. In Northern Liberties, Ashley Johnson. Channel 6 Action News.