With near-perfect SAT scores and stellar grades, Ralph Jones Jr., a 16-year-old Atlanta, Ga. native and freshman at Florida A&M University (FAMU), had the opportunity to attend almost any college in the world.
But the award-winning student turned down Ivy League schools like Harvard and other HBCUs Howard and Morehouse to attend the Tallahassee institution.
“You could never forget a kid like Ralph,” Jones’ former SAT math prep teacher and FAMU alumnae Kemberlee Pugh Bingham told Florida’s WCTV. “He is a child prodigy and has always been different from his peers. He would often provide a challenge. One day, we went toe-to-toe and he strongly argued his point. I appreciate a kid who thinks critically; it shows that they care.”
Education has always been an integral part of Jones’ life, as his parents were both educators. According to WCTV, the young scholar was reading at the ninth-grade level, doing basic algebra, subtracting and dividing by age 4.
Jones received the Life-Gets-Better Scholarship and was a National Achievement finalist. He received $120,000 in scholarships, which includes a stipend, tuition and fees, room and board, books and a laptop, from FAMU. “Everything that I have worked for has helped me earn my place here,” said Jones. “I am going to earn my right to stay here and when I graduate, I am going to have earned my degree.”