You may have heard of Abel Berhan – his reaction to his acceptance to Harvard went viral, was shared on Facebook more than 500 times and caught the attention of various local news stations:
Stanford University, Princeton University and University of Pennsylvania also sent acceptance letters.
And Berhan’s good news keeps pouring in – he’s been awarded many prestigious scholarships. In total he received $400,000 for college. He’ll use the funds to attend Harvard, where he plans to major in government and economics.
“Abel is a critical leader on our campus. From leading ASB leadership class, to facilitating assemblies, to his steadfast commitment to high academic achievement in the classroom, Abel continually gives back to his Evergreen community with his leadership,” Evergreen Principal Jacqueline Downey said.
Berhan participated in This Gen: Youth Summit to End Gender-Based Violence, ACLU Summer Advocacy Internship and Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America Scholars (a Princeton University-led program where he researched and created a proposal about mass incarceration). With YouthSpeaks Seattle Spoken Word, Berhan interned as a slam poet where he used poetry as a platform to fight oppression.
“I think it’s important to get involved in things you’re actually passionate about — especially if it involves things like art,” Berhan said. “I ended up sending colleges an art portfolio of my spoken poetry.”
Berhan led school walkouts at Evergreen High School protesting gun violence after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Florida.
“If you see something in your community or in this world that you don’t like or you don’t approve of, I think it’s important to stand against that,” Berhan said in an interview with Q13.
Berhan was awarded the prestigious title of Coca-Cola Scholar, which comes with a $20,000 college scholarship that not only honors academics but service and leadership. Coca-Cola says their scholars are seen as change agents, positively affecting others in their community. He was one of 140,000 applicants.
The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation gave Berhan a college scholarship of up to $40,000 annually for undergraduate expenses. In addition to the monetary award, Cooke College Scholars receive advising from foundation staff to guide them through the transition to college and career. The foundation provides opportunities for internships, study abroad, graduate school funding and connection to a network of Cooke Scholars and alumni.
Berhan was also recognized as a Foot Locker Scholar Athlete. The Foot Locker Scholar Athletes program honors 20 outstanding student athletes a year with a $20,000 college scholarship for demonstrating academic excellence and exemplifying strong leadership skills both in sports and within their communities. Berhan has qualified for state cross country championships three years in a row. He raced in regional track and field championships during his junior season, and was captain for both varsity teams. Under his leadership, Berhan doubled participation in cross country.
Finally, Berhan was recognized as a Ron Brown Scholar. The program focuses on encouraging civic engagement among scholars while promoting academic excellence, community and lifelong interactions. Recipients are young African Americans of outstanding promise who are offered academic scholarships, service opportunities and leadership experiences. Berhan will receive $40,000.
Other money has poured in from various scholarships, including the 13th year scholarship from Highline Schools Foundation.
“Abel is caring and thoughtful with all students and staff he works with. He has numerous outstanding achievements, yet is incredibly humble,” Downey said. “I have no doubt that Abel will achieve his college and career aspirations, and that we will all benefit from his future leadership.”