Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford and MIT
When Lusher Charter School Senior Amaris Lewis won the Grand Prize Award in Cellular and Molecular Biology at the Greater New Orleans Science and Engineering Fair last fall, it was obvious great things were in store for her. In her research, Amaris investigated “the utility of a biomarker called CD-264 for identifying human stem cells that were more likely to proliferate, and thus be better candidates for use in therapeutic applications.”
In plain English: she’s a genius who seeks to save lives.
Lewis’ high school career Is impressive: She is a National Merit Finalist and was nominated as a U.S. Presidential Scholar Candidate, all while maintaining a 4.40 GPA.
But when it came time to apply to colleges, Lewis like any high school senior, was nervous. She aimed high and applied to a dozen extremely competitive schools: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, MIT, Vanderbilt, Emory, Rice, Tulane, USC, Carnegie Mellon and LSU.
And she got into all of them.
“Amaris represents the paragon of hard work, dedication, and love for knowledge,” said Lusher Charter School CEO Kathy Riedlinger. “She is not only a brilliant and progressive thinker, she is a kind and generous person with a great future ahead of her, who really will make a difference in medical research.”
Amaris was sent “likely letters" from Harvard and Yale before her official acceptances. “Likely letters” are only sent to a few hundred applicants of the thousands who applied as a way for colleges to notify the top candidates early of their acceptance.
Eventually, Amaris was awarded an outstanding $2.675 million in scholarships, including the QuestBridge National College Match scholarship to attend Stanford University for the full cost of attendance; The Gates Scholarship, which is full cost of attendance at any U.S. college or university along with any study abroad or summer programs; and the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation College Scholarship which covers any remaining cost of attendance up to $40k.
She also was recently awarded the only gold medal for the 2019 Emmy Noether Awards by the Joe W. and Dorothy Dorsett Brown Foundation and will be awarded $25,000 for each year she is in a graduate level research program up to 3 years ($75,000) and will be inducted as a 2019 Emmy Noether Scholar. The Emmy Noether Awards seek top aspiring female research scientists in any STEM (science, technology, engineering, or math) field to help realize their potential careers through financial and networking assistance.
"I owe an incredible amount of my success so far to my school community, teachers, and mentors for not only instilling a sense of academic drive and self-advocacy in me but also for encouraging me to be my most authentic self,” said Lewis. “By encouraging individual thought and creativity, Lusher made me even more excited to pursue thought-provoking concepts through lab research and to become involved in extracurricular projects and outreach activities that promote my genuine curiosity and interests.”
This summer, Lewis will be participating in the Bessie F. Lawrence International Summer Science Institute (ISSI) at the Weizmann Institute for Science in Israel. As one of 19 American students representing the United States at the all-expense paid program, she will be completing laboratory research alongside Weizmann scientists as well as interacting with other young scholars from all over the world.
Amaris plans to attend Stanford University in the fall to study either Bioengineering or Biomedical Computation.
Lewis said, “Although I think it's very easy to get caught up in numbers, statistics, and test scores when applying to colleges, I feel fortunate to be in an environment that values intellectual vitality because it reminded me to showcase my own unique interests and experiences above all else and to hold those passions at the core of my identity as I presented a cohesive image of myself through my essays and interviews. I believe that these endeavors are what really helped me to stand out when applying to such competitive schools, and I hope to inspire this same quality of original inquiry in my new communities when I begin college in the fall."
Lusher Charter School, a National Blue Ribbon School (1988 & 2018) in partnership with Tulane University, has a renowned arts-integrated academic program that engages students and challenges them to think critically, analytically and creatively. Lusher offers a unique program that inspires imagination and intellectual curiosity. It provides an environment which fosters the social-emotional development of students and values the unique combination of talents and interests in each of our students.