Spotlight on Stewart Gray: The Journey to College Acceptance

Thurgood Marshall Academy, a high-performing public charter high school, has been an educational pillar in Washington, DC’s Anacostia community for the last twelve years. Within the walls of the school, hundreds of students, many of whom will be first generation college-goers, have realized their potential, transcending the negative images of their community portrayed in the media. Since opening in 2001, 100% of Thurgood Marshall Academy’s nine graduating cohorts have been accepted to college, receiving over $15 million in scholarships. These statistics are a product of a comprehensive college preparatory curriculum and a collaborative environment. Parents, staff, and faculty members all contribute time and expertise in ensuring every student that makes it to their senior year at Thurgood Marshall Academy is accepted and successful in college.

Statistics can tell a story, albeit an impersonal one: In an effort to share our best practices and give a name and face to these achievement numbers, we will follow one student, Stewart Gray, as he completes the last few months of his high school tenure. Through a series of weekly posts and articles, we will interview Stewart as he awaits his college application decisions, completes scholarship applications, chooses a school to attend in the fall, walks the final stretch to graduation, and finally, his move to college. During this series, you will also hear from Mr. Sanjay Mitchell, Director of College & Alumni Programs, about the preparation that Thurgood Marshall Academy seniors undergo during their last year of high school to prepare for college.

Meet Stewart Gray

What are your hobbies and interests?

In my spare time, I enjoy programming, 3D modeling, playing the guitar, writing and listening to music.

Can you briefly describe your high school experience and journey? Why did you decide to come to TMA and did TMA meet your expectations?

I came to TMA after our family relocated to Washington, DC. The school was close to home, and my initial impressions were positive.

How has TMA changed your look for the future?

In the next few months, I anticipate receiving my acceptance letter and diploma necessary to get into college. In relation to academics, I intend to follow my intended major as an electrical engineer. I aim to work in the development of safer batteries and efficient embedded systems for electric vehicles, advancing the use of alternative energies in transportation. Traditional combustion-oriented vehicles remain dominant on the roads, leading to unnecessary pollution that can be especially pervasive in urban areas. It is a tentative career oriented goal, but one that I feel will encompass my interests which range from the technical to the social sciences. For instance, my membership in the school’s green club has made me more aware of the need for alternative energy in urban environments.

Why did you agree to have us follow you on this journey of college acceptance?

I wanted to share a different student perspective about the college process in relation to this school.

What schools did you apply to? Which ones are your top 5 and why?

My top five schools are Stanford University, MIT, Carnegie Mellon University, Rice University and Cornell University. I have chosen them based on the strength of their engineering programs, locale, and unique traits. For instance, I am intrigued by Stanford’s proximity to the Silicon Valley.

To be continued…

Come back next week for a conversation with Mr. Mitchell, the Director of College & Alumni Programs. We’ll be talking about Senior Seminar and we’ll provide an update on Stewart. We encourage the community to provide feedback and encouragement on these weekly posts.