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15-Year-Old Greensboro Student Graduates With 4.5 GPA; May Not Be Able to Go to College After Turned Down for Scholarships


Greensboro, NC – Ishmale Powell is a little more than smart. The 15-year-old prodigy graduated from Page High School in Greensboro, NC, about three weeks ago with a smooth 4.5 GPA and seemed like a shoo-in for college as he worked toward his goals.

But Ishmale, who comes from a single-parent household, has hit a serious wall in his journey after applying for several scholarships, none of which have given him a positive response. That lack of money may put his future on hold, WFMY-TV reports.

When Ishmale graduated, he was all smiles. The teen had skipped two grades and taken high school classes while still in middle school, all of which set him on track to graduate so early.

“It is unbelievable. It came so fast and I just can’t believe it; it feels great,” he said.

The teen, who wants to be an astrophysicist, is headed to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in the fall, where he intends to major in computer engineering and minor in aerospace engineering.

“Going at such a young age, it might be difficult for me, but I think I am ready,” he said.

But the finances that it will take to make sure Ishmale is set up for success are still not in hand. Every single scholarship he has applied to has turned him down, the news station notes.

“That’s really worrying me. I’m not sure how I’m going to pay for tuition or anything because I come from a single-parent home and it’s been rough,” he acknowledged.

Ishmale’s father, Shawn Powell, is on a fixed disability income, and while the 15-year-old has $3,000 from the Pell Grant program and $6,000 from the UNC system for his first year secured, Powell cannot afford the remaining $40,000 needed for room, board and other fees.

So the doting dad has decided to move to Charlotte so his son can attend school from home. But there are still other costs to account for.

“I have been always on my son real hard and trying to make sure he does the right thing,” Powell said. “I’m trying not to think about the stuff now, but it’s really real because he’s just walked across the stage.”

The family is holding out for one more option, from Say Yes of Guilford County. Donnie Turlington, the interim director of Say Yes Guilford County, says that it is possible that Ishmale’s age and the fact that he skipped his junior year may play a factor in his lack of scholarship options.

However, Turlington has reviewed Ishmale’s case and has scheduled a meeting with the family.

“High-performing students like him, we want to find a way that we can make sure we can break down the cost barriers involved with the college,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ishmale has his fingers crossed.

“I just pray that a blessing will happen,” he said.


PHOTO: (Screenshot: WFMY-TV)

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Phyllis Coley
Phyllis D. Coley is CEO/Publisher of Spectacular Magazine and Host of Spectacular Magazine Radio Show. With a B.A. in English from NCCU, the Durham native began her professional career as Promotions/Marketing Director for New York City’s WKTU-FM. While at the radio station, Coley discovered the rap group Kid ‘n Play and managed them for five years, guiding their music and movie careers to success. Moving back to Durham, Coley produced a nationally syndicated television show, The Electric Factory, while working as News Director for FOXY 107/104. In April 2002, recognizing a void in highlighting the achievements of African Americans, she started her own business publishing ACE Magazine. Coley launched Spectacular Magazine in November 2004. Recognizing the lack of pertinent and truthful information, Coley began Spectacular Magazine Radio Show in March 2009. Coley is the organizer of Durham's Annual MLK/Black History Month Parade and the Annual North Carolina Juneteenth Celebration. She currently serves on Central Children’s Home Board of Directors, Raleigh Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Advisors, as Immediate Past Secretary of the Durham Rotary Club Board of Directors and is one of the founding members of the Triangle United Way’s African American Leadership Initiative.

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