Ny’Quasia Brown

For New Bern, N.C., native, Ny’Quasia Brown, the dream of attending college was one she was set on realizing.

On June 15, 2019, the Jacksonville, N.C., teen graduated from White Oak High School at the age of 16 with more than $1.5 million in scholarships.

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“I’ve always wanted to go to an HBCU (historically black college or university),” Brown said. “When I started doing my research, I looked at colleges that ranked high in the nation where I knew I could also get a great education.”

She quickly put North Carolina Central University (NCCU) at the top of her list and has since confirmed her enrollment as an Eagle freshman, entering with the class of 2023. Her goal is, after obtaining a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science, to attend NCCU School of Law.

The university’s chancellor, Johnson O. Akinleye, Ph.D., called Brown to congratulate her on her achievements and formally welcome her to the university upon learning of her college decision.

To get to this point, Brown spent two years working with her school’s counselors, Sandra Young and Rena McAllister, not only to apply for colleges, but also find the resources to pay for her education. Her persistence paid off greatly: to date, Brown has amassed over $1,543,500 in scholarships. These funds include the People Helping People scholarship offered by the State Employees Credit Union along, with awards from the Jacksonville Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., White Oak High School and NCCU. 

“One day we were sitting and talking about college and Ny’Quasia was beginning to receive mail from several institutions,” said Crystal Gill, Brown’s mother. “She started filling out applications and looking into scholarship opportunities and said, ‘Mom, I’m going to college for free.’”

Her mother credits the Counselor’s Corner at her daughter’s high school for helping Brown achieve her goal. “There is a book of scholarships they keep in the front area of the office and Ny’Quasia was there diligently, multiple times each week.”

Gill, who also has two children who are younger than Ny’Quasia and one who is older, didn’t want Brown to choose a college far from home, but she practiced a piece of counsel she passes on to other parents: “Don’t lead your children, guide them.”

And, Gill knows what makes her daughter thrive: “Ny’Quasia is very independent and has a mind of her own, and I support her. I see her being a successful attorney. She will be phenomenal and make changes in the world.”

Dr. Christopher Barnes, principal of White Oak High School, concurs.

“My first interaction with Ny’Quasia showed me she was a very vocal and confident freshman. She has become intense and determined about success beyond high school,” Barnes said.  “Her ability to know what she is after, where she is going and how to get there is admirable. She is a mold-breaker.”

One specific example of Brown’s early abilities to mediate and negotiate came when she saw an opportunity to create an inaugural Black History Spirit Week at her high school.

“I brought the idea to my principal, Dr. Barnes, and I saw it as a way to be a leader and spark a change following a challenging situation with my classmates,” Brown explained.

Barnes said that Brown is solutions oriented. “She brought with her the assumption that I cared and I didn’t shut her down.”

She hopes that the week now will be celebrated annually at her school and has already spoken to junior class officers at her high school.

Since her story began generating publicity and speaking requests, Brown has provided her words of wisdom to other young people who are looking to follow in her footsteps. The keys to her success thus far are simple: “Leadership is very important; take advantage of every opportunity you are given. Place God first. Utilize your full potential. God has blessed me with a community and family that have supported me when I couldn’t do it for myself. Always remember that you have to sow a seed.” She also credits her godparents, Will and Natisha McCarter, for playing a role in her success.  

NCCU will welcome Ny’Quasia Brown as part of its first-year class of 2023 in August 2019.