Alcovy High School senior Arie Smith has accomplished something that only 999 other students in the county have, she has been named a Gates Millennium Scholar, awarding her up to $500,000 for her college education.
The 17-year-old is one of 23,000 applicants for the scholarship, established in 1999 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It not only supports the cost of undergraduate education to the accredited school of the student's choice, but also offers continued funding for students studying computer science, education, engineering, library science, mathematics, public health or science, though their doctorate, should they choose to get one.
According to Arie's mother Joyce Smith, a paraprofessional and special education math teacher at Newton High School, her daughter will attend Emory University to pursue a goal she first announced in the third grade - to become a corporate attorney. She will major in business and finance before heading to law school.
"We are extremely proud of Arie," said Joyce. "She has always been extremely independent and has always done things on her own. She has always been very academically inclined and driven. As long as she keeps her focus and keeps God first, the sky is the limit for her."
Arie started reading before pre-k and was the only Quest student in kindergarten at Porterdale Elementary. Since that time she has been involved in cheerleading, community volunteering (especially with the homeless), her church, Washington Community Center, Keep Covington/Newton County Beautiful and tennis.
Her father, Arthur Smith, a math teacher at Middle Grove High School in Decatur, said that Arie was excited when she found out she had been chosen as a scholar and that she has worked hard since elementary school to make sure she could achieve her goals.
"I am extremely proud of her. She's always been a very hard worker," he said.
"A major goal of public education is to ensure that all students graduate from high school and are prepared to positively contribute to society. As a high school principal, a major goal is to ensure that students are graduating that are honest, respectful, who prepared to compete globally via their college and career choice," said Alcovy Principal Dr. LaQuanda Carpenter. "As a graduate of the 2011 Alcovy class, Arie has reached an amazing accomplishment and an outstanding feat. Arie is a stand-out student. She is extremely respectful, very humble, goal-oriented, and determined to excel. Arie has sent a message that whatever goal you set for yourself can be achieved if you are willing to put forth the hard work and the time that it takes to accomplish such a goal. I am extremely proud of Arie and wish nothing but the best for her and her family as she has proven that she is on her way to setting a list of outstanding accomplishments."
Arie is one of four children; she has an older sister Whitney and two younger siblings, Joy and Jarrett.