Frederick A. Douglass High School Senior, Amari Ann Shepherd, earns $9.2 Million in Scholarships

NEW ORLEANS — Amari Shepherd, a 17-year-old senior at Frederick A. Douglass High School, has achieved what many would consider impossible: $9.2 million in scholarship offers and acceptance to 162 colleges and universities. But for Shepherd, who has faced unimaginable loss and adversity, this remarkable feat marks the beginning of a journey driven by resilience, leadership, and a deep commitment to her community.

The road to success for this remarkable young woman has been paved with both heartache and triumph. Losing her father in kindergarten and both maternal grandparents to COVID-19, she's no stranger to adversity. But where others might have stumbled, Shepherd found strength, channeling her grief into a fierce commitment to her education and her community. “My grandma, Anita, consistently encouraged and supported me, which caused me to always believe in myself and to help others.  When she died, it made me feel like everything I do moving forward, is bigger than just me.”

With a 5.0GPA and the title of valedictorian in her grasp, Shepherd's academic ability is undeniable. But it's her leadership and service that truly set her apart. As a two-time winner of KIPP's New Orleans' Black Lives Matter Writing Contest and the author of "Thirteen," her first book published during her junior year, Shepherd is using her voice to inspire change.

From serving as the Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, and Student Body President to being a member of the Mayor's and Superintendent's Youth Advisory Council, Shepherd's leadership knows no bounds. Her passion for service shines through in her work with Brown Girls Swim, promoting water safety and inclusivity, and through her work with Grow Dat, in conjunction with the Zero Hunger Challenge,an initiative started by NBA Pelicans player Larry Nance, aimed at helping solve the food scarcity problem in the City of New Orleans.  Amari has also spent countless hours tutoring her peers in AP World History, Writing, and Science.  

Shepherd's approach to college applications was a masterclass in strategy and ambition. Applying to her dream schools and leveraging every free application opportunity, she amassed an astonishing 162 acceptance letters and $9.2 million in scholarship offers. Among these, the prestigious Goldberg Scholarship stands out, offering not just financial support, but also mentorship, counseling, and a pathway to academic enrichment.

Shepherd's decision to attend Spelman College on a full scholarship is a testament to her commitment to excellence and her desire to use her education as a catalyst for change. With plans to pursue a degree in political science, a pre-law concentration, and a minor in psychology, Shepherd is charting a course toward a future in law and advocacy, with her ultimate plan to one day sit on the Supreme Court.

What makes Shepherd's story so remarkable is not just the accolades or the scholarships, but the impact she's already having on those around her. As Towana Pierre-Floyd, Principal at Frederick Douglass and Managing Director of High Schools of KIPP New Orleans, put it, "Amari is the true embodiment of compassion, intellect, and strength."

Shepherd's accomplishments extend beyond the classroom. She is set to graduate with an associate's degree from Bard College on May 11, just days before receiving her high school diploma from Frederick A. Douglass on May 17.

As she stands on the precipice of her next chapter, Amari Shepherd is a beacon of hope for a generation. Her story is a powerful reminder of the power of education and the limitless potential of a determined individual. As she embarks on her journey at Spelman College, one thing is clear: Amari Shepherd is ready to leave her mark on the world.