15-Year-Old Who Graduated From High School With 4.5 GPA May Not Be Able to Go to College After He’s Turned Down for Scholarships [Updated]

Ishmale Powell
Ishmale Powell
Screenshot: WFMY-TV

Updated Monday, July 2, 2018, 1:25 p.m. EDT: Ishmale Powell’s troubles may have lessened, but they’re not quite over. On Monday, Say Yes Guilford Interim Executive Director Donnie Turlington reached out to The Root
to let us know that Ishmale’s cost of attendance is not $40,000 as he first speculated, but “closer to $20,000.”


Turlington said that he could not share specific details but said that the organization is “working as advocates on his behalf with UNC Charlotte to determine if additional institutional aid is available and we are working with him to continue to apply for scholarships that have late deadlines, etc.”

In the meantime, Ishmale has been raising money through a GoFundMe campaign, which has already blasted through it’s $25,000 goal to raise $36,257 for the young teen.


Ishmale Powell is a little more than smart. The 15-year-old prodigy graduated from Page High School in Greensboro, N.C., about two 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.


Steve Vicious

I’m still not clear on WHY he is getting turned down for scholarships. I read the linked article and it does not make it clear either.