Wednesday, May 24 started like any other day at Washtenaw International High School (WIHI). Students and staff went about their normal business, but for two students the day held a special surprise. After being called to the school’s media center, Olabisi Bolanle and Shyaoman Zhang learned that they were the first recipients of the new WIHI’s “Exceptional Learner Scholarship.”
The Exceptional Learner Scholarship was established by an anonymous donor earlier this year. Up to two WIHI graduates every year for the next 13 years will each receive $12,500 a year for up to four years of college, totaling $50,000 a piece toward a bachelor’s degree. In all, the scholarship fund will distribute more than $1 million to WIHI graduates who otherwise would have a difficult time affording college.
The scholarship recipients were selected by Scholarship America, an external organization, based on financial need, academic achievement and personal and family circumstances. School counselor Brian Nemerovski helped prepare the WIHI students’ scholarship applications.
WIHI is an International Baccalaureate high school in Ypsilanti Michigan that enrolls students from Washtenaw County’s nine traditional public schools through the Washtenaw Educational Options Consortium. Every one of the 90 students in its Class of 2017 will graduate this spring and pursue higher education. The school ranks among the top in the state for graduates enrolled in college and students’ performance on the SAT.
Bolanle, known as Bisi to most, is headed to Emory University in Atlanta where he plans to study biology and business administration on his way to becoming an orthopedic surgeon. Zhang will attend the Rhode Island School of Design, where she wants to go into design or illustration.
Both students are accomplished in multiple fields besides academics. At his home school, Lincoln High School, Bisi is captain of the soccer team. He is also the lead saxophonist at his church, a peer educator with Planned Parenthood and member of the National Honor Society. Shyaoman hales from the Saline Area Schools. She is a visual artist, accomplished pianist and leader with the National Honor Society and WIHI’s school climate committee. She’s received state-level honors in forensics and national recognition with the Art Corner Studio.
WIHI’s Principal Nhu Do had this to say in a press release, “Olabisi and Shyaoman are two exceptional students from a class of 90 outstanding students at WIHI, and we are deeply proud and delighted for them as though they were our own children.”