They’re not just best friends at Westlake High School; they’re also superstar role models. “Role models for everyone. K through 12 and those to come,” Principal Jarvis Adams told WSB-TV Channel 2 Action News.
So why all this attention on high school seniors Daya Brown and Jaylin Ellison? Because, combined, the pair have been accepted to 102 colleges and universities and awarded more than $2.8 million in scholarships. For Ellison, the tally is 48 schools and $1.5 million. For Brown, it’s 54 schools and more than $1.3 million.
“I’ve really just been very blessed and thankful to myself and all the people in my circle for all this work we’ve been putting in,” said Ellison, who is still deciding between Howard and Vanderbilt.
“I’m very proud of me and my best friend and colleague as we go through this journey together,” Brown, who has decided to attend Duke University, told WSB.
“It really wasn’t about the number of schools I applied to, it was really about making sure that I had options for my parents to really sit back and relax,” Brown told “Good Morning America.” “Student loans are something that I do not want. So this is kind of a gift, both to myself and to them.”
She told GMA she started curating her list of schools when she was a sophomore, then doing the extracurriculars that aligned with the majors she was looking at. As a 16-year-old, she was a staff writer at VoxATL, and then, in August 2021, founded Elom & Co. Productions, which “aims to be a catalyst for emerging creators.”
Ellison, meanwhile, is a screenwriter, film director and director of operations at Elom.
Brown told GMA she will study visual media studies with a minor in journalism at Duke. Her advice to other students starting the college process, she told the show, is “to do the work and do it with happiness.”
“No, it wasn’t easy. Yes, you have to stay up many nights to get the work done if you want the GPA, but at the same time, it wouldn’t feel like such a burden, if it’s your passion,” she said. “I wake up every day, happy about what I do.”
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