St. Louis student surprised with WashU Pledge scholarship

700 early decision applicants received admission letters Tuesday

The WashU Bear, Grace Chapin James (center), executive director of undergraduate admissions, and Mike Runiewicz, assistant vice provost and director of Student Financial Service, hand-delivered an acceptance letter to Marye’ Jones (left), a senior at Clyde C. Miller Career Academy. (Photo: Whitney Curtis/Washington University)

High school senior Marye’ Jones got two big surprises Monday, Dec. 12, when she walked into the library at Clyde C. Miller Career Academy in St. Louis Public Schools. There, she found her mother and two brothers holding balloons and flowers, along with two strangers, each bearing an envelope. 

The first contained a letter of admission to Washington University in St. Louis, Jones’ dream school. 

“Congratulations,” said Grace Chapin James, executive director of undergraduate admissions. “You deserve this!”

The second, presented by Mike Runiewicz, assistant vice provost and director of Student Financial Services, was a WashU Pledge scholarship award. 

“This is our commitment to cover your tuition, fees, housing and more,” Runiewicz said as Jones’ family cheered.

“I just can’t believe it,” Jones said, still staring at the letter. 

The good news may have surprised Jones, but not those gathered to celebrate her achievement. Not Principal Angelia Rougeau or college counselor JuMah Fennoy at Clyde C. Miller, where Jones has distinguished herself as a scholar and a leader. Not her mother, Rachaunda Jones, a nurse at Barnes-Jewish Hospital who has nurtured her daughter’s passion for medicine and caregiving. And not big brother Marquis Jones, who leaned on his sister after their father was killed by gun violence in 2010. 

“She kept me — all of us — motivated and strong,” said Marquis Jones, who is a premedical student at Louisiana State University. “She is just a wonderful person who can achieve anything she tries to do.”

Jones said she selected Washington University because of its broad-based prehealth program, one of the best in the nation. Jones hopes to be a physician, perhaps a surgeon or a gynecologist. She also works at the YMCA; received a Young Citizens Award from the St. Louis Rotary Club; runs her own baking and nail businesses; and is about to start an internship at Saint Louis University Hospital. 

“When I visited, I knew WashU was the right environment for me,” Jones said. “Students would just come up and tell me about the school. I didn’t even have to ask. Everyone was so nice and interesting. I could just see myself there.”

Jones is one of 700 high school students who have been admitted to Washington University’s Class of 2027 through the early decision process. About 2,000 students applied early decision in 2022, an increase of 12%. About 12% of early decision admits are Pell Grant-eligible and 13% are the first in their families to attend college. Five percent are eligible for the WashU Pledge, which provides a free undergraduate education to admitted Missouri and southern Illinois students who are Pell Grant-eligible or from families with annual incomes of $75,000 or less.

In addition, Washington University has admitted 75 QuestBridge Scholars through the National College Match process, which pairs high-achieving, lower-income students with QuestBridge college partners. 

Admission officers have traveled to 40 states and 11 nations to recruit the Class of 2027. In addition, Bear Ambassadors continue to lead campus tours five to six days a week.

Washington University will admit the remainder of the Class of 2027 through the second round of early decision and then the regular decision application process.

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