Mississippi high school student receives over $1.4 million in college scholarships

It’s only two months into the school year but high school senior Dana Bolden has already received over $1.4 million in college scholarships.

The 17-year-old, who attends Jim Hill High School in Jackson, Mississippi, said she began considering which colleges and scholarships to apply to over the summer and kickstarted the process once the fall term began in early August.

“Once school started, I just decided to go ahead and knock it out and start applying to a bunch of schools,” Bolden told “Good Morning America.” “I didn’t think that I would get to this point of $1.4 million in scholarships, but I’m very grateful that I am and I’m very grateful that I have the opportunity to get this far.”

Dana Bolden, a senior at Jim Hill High School in Jackson, Mississippi, has won over $1.4 million in scholarships.Courtesy of Jackson Public Schools

Bolden said she was inspired to apply to multiple schools and scholarships after seeing a fellow student earn over $1 million in scholarships her sophomore year.

Frank Branch, an academic advisor at Jim Hill, told “GMA” that the school sees at least one student achieve the remarkable milestone but Dana’s story is particularly special.

“Every year, we normally would have $1 million, $2 million or $3 million babies, as we call them. But this is the first time that we’ve had anyone achieve over a million dollars in September,” Branch said. “Normally, this will happen in January, so I’m very proud of Dana.”

Bolden, a clarinetist in the Jim Hill High School Marching Band and an active speech and debate and student government member, said her journey has been a long one but she credits her mentors, like Jim Hill Principal Bobby Brown, for helping her reach her sky-high goals.

Bolden is also a member of the Jim Hill High School Marching Band and plays clarinet. She also performs with her school’s concert band and a community symphonic band.Courtesy of Jackson Public Schools

“I almost gave up. I tried to give up. I had so many people push me to be better and to do better, and I’m so grateful that I did, because without them, I would not have this,” she said. “I have so many mentors who are very adamant on me being successful because they’ve been where I’ve been and they’ve made it, so they want me to be as successful as them because they know I can do it.”

Brown told “GMA” that he considers Dana’s achievements as an example of what a Jim Hill student is.

“I think the work that Dana has put into this process has been simply and truly amazing,” Brown said. “There are some great academic things happening here at Jim Hill High School, and Dana exemplifies what we consider to be a profile of a Jim Hill High School and Jackson Public Schools graduate.”

Bolden, 17, hopes to attend her dream school, Duke University.Courtesy of Jackson Public Schools

Bolden, who has applied to over 60 colleges and about 80 scholarships, has already been accepted to 34 schools and scholarships, and is expecting to hear from more schools later this fall. She said her dream school is Duke University and she hopes to major in biology and pursue a medical career as a trauma surgeon.

For her peers, Bolden said she encourages them to chase their dreams.

“A lot of my classmates put off applying to college because they think that they’re not good enough to get in, or they don’t think that they’ll meet the standards that they’ve set for themselves, but I feel like all you have to do is sit down, make this list, apply to colleges. You never know where you’ll end up.”