A Mastery Charter High School senior was able to secure a completely free college education at one of the nation’s most historic schools, Georgetown University, this spring.
Jawad Pullin earned an institutional scholarship from Georgetown, and two others, including one from the Gates Millennium Scholars program, covering an undergraduate education, that would have cost him around $60,000 a year.
If Pullin chooses to pursue graduate studies, it will also be covered, depending on the program he chooses, under the Gates scholarship.
“I am more relieved than excited about being debt free,” Pullin said. “Ever since I first entertained the thought of going to college, I was frustrated by the nagging notion of having to pay for it – and how expensive it would be. I kept hearing the terms financial aid and student loans. The process just sounded drawn out and complex and I didn’t want to deal with any of it. I just wanted to go to college and get an education.”
Pullin received his “financial award letter” announcing his Georgetown funds first and then he got a letter in April stating that he was one of the 1,000 awardees selected out of 52,000 applicants to receive the Gates scholarship. He remembers that day.
“Just before I ran out to the mailbox, my mom was really mad at me and when I came back in and said ‘hey I got the scholarship,’ after screaming at me the entire morning, that just came to a halt,” he said.
Pullin said the Gates award covers a “little under $10,000” of his college costs, and the Georgetown award will cover about “$50,000.” He also received an Urban League of Philadelphia scholarship. This and the Gates award, he said, were the only two external scholarships he received of about 10 to 12 that he applied for.
Pullin said the Gates, award, which is designed for “minority students with significant financial need,” had a challenging application process.
“It emphasized essays the most,” he said. “They stated at the information session that the readers can sift through fakeness so it’s really important you don’t write an essay once and that you redo it again. They [also] suggested I get a writing coach so my 10th grade literature teacher helped me.”
Pullin had to write eight essays for the Gates award. He noted that they all had different themes such as “short term and long term goals and challenges the student had to overcome.”
Upon entering Georgetown, Pullin said he plans to major in Government and Economics, and possibly minor in Business Administration.
“I became interested in politics in 8th grade, during the 2008 election,” Pullin said. “Barack Obama captivated the nation [and the world] so much with his victory that after obsessing over the election I couldn’t tune out of what was going on or else I wouldn’t understand it.
“Plus, my older brother graduated from George Washington University and had spent years working in Washington DC and had come home to Philadelphia to work as a regional field director for the Obama campaign,” he added. “I got to see his work up close and my interest was piqued.”
So far, he has worked on several campaigns, including Obama’s 2012 re-election, “Newark mayor Cory Booker’s 2013 Senate run and Allyson Schwartz’s failed 2014 gubernatorial campaign.”
With such a resume and the freedom that an all expense paid college ride can provide, Mastery High college advisor, Justina Bell, said Pullin is in a position to succeed.
“I feel like Jawad can now focus on his education,” she said. “He’s not going to be bogged down with the [thought] ‘I’m excelling here, I really want to stay but can my family afford me to stay?’ I feel like this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and this will set him up for the future.”