When the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Morris family in Beacon Hollow to look for a WiFi provider for their home so their children could nearly go to school, Lynne Morris III—the eldest of eight siblings—saw this not a challenge but an opportunity. He took additional courses, explored his interests in math and science and this fall joined the school’s Scholastic Bowl team.
Last month, Morris was one of 1,674 in-state applicants to match a full scholarship to Princeton University through the QuestBridge Scholarship Program.
“Lynn Morris is an example of true determination,” said AP Biology teacher Kirsten Dexter. “COVID has not held any punches in regards to making education difficult for Lynn. However, he has always found a way to participate (even if he is sitting in a random parking lot so he can check in) and the work has always been excellent. He is humble. He is real. He is a role model for children. who believe that their lives are preventing them from reaching their dreams. He did, and I am proud to say that he is my disciple.”
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QuestBridge is a national nonprofit program that connects high school seniors from low-income backgrounds and full four-year scholarships to one of 45 college partners—including Princeton, MIT, Stanford, and Yale. Since 2003, QuestBridge has matched more than 10,500 students with one of the top educational institutions, offering financial aid packages through universities to cover the full cost of study plus housing, food, books, supplies and any travel expenses.
There is no parental contribution and scholars graduate without student loans.
“The achievements of Match Scholarship recipients are the culmination of their hard work and perseverance,” said Anna McCullough, Co-Founder and CEO of QuestBridge. “Thanks to the commitment of our college partners, these deserving students can reach their full potential without worrying about the cost of a great education.”
In 2021, 16,500 students applied for the QuestBridge Scholarship Program. Each student applied to up to 12 universities – in order of preference – and submitted supplementary materials including essays, test scores and letters of recommendation for each. The colleges then choose which students they will accept and award scholarships to.
Princeton was Maurice’s best choice, and luckily they chose him as well.
“Princeton was kind of the first college I ever knew,” Morris said. “Before my family moved, the owners went to Princeton – they met there – and so I got exposed to it. I looked into it and the campus was really cool; they have a lot of great programs and they have a really big lake next door, which is great.”
Morris said he looks forward to doing some fishing in the lake when he’s not busy studying. Plans to major in economics or computer science – or perhaps both.
No stranger to hard work, Morris is part of the Dual Enrollment Program for Senior Undergraduate Scholars with Piedmont Virginia Community College that allows William Monroe seniors to graduate with their associate’s degree. It is also a member of the Blue Ridge Virtual Governor’s School (BRVGS) program, which offers unique offerings of advanced courses to highly motivated students in the area.
Morris also serves as one of the Mathematics Experts on the Study Container Team at WMHS.
“I’m really excited for Lynn,” coach Desiree Floyd said. “He’s definitely great with the math questions (and) very polite. … I wish I could have included him on the team before this year. He’s one of four people – along with Tori, Conrad and Tommy – who have a STEM night in high school and meet up with (High School Principal Katie) Brunel every Friday to help plan for it.”
According to Princeton University admissions materials, the estimated cost of attendance for 2022 is $79,900 per year. This includes $57,690 in tuition, $11,000 room, $7,710 for food and $3,500 in miscellaneous expenses. Over the next four years, the Morris scholarship will be worth more than $320,000.
According to WMHS Director of Consulting, Erin Christmas, Morris’ love of history and science stems from television. Morris’ parents were paying for a sports package through their cable provider which happened to include a science channel, and he had to beg his mom not to cancel the sports package so he could continue learning more science.
“There are different shows…like space programs where they talk about black holes and different planets,” Morris said. The person I watched a lot of was called ‘What on Earth? “And they are satellite images and they are puzzles and they try to explain what it is. Most of the time the solution is a very straightforward answer – not extraterrestrials.”
Morris said that one of the most memorable episodes involved scientific developments around the world such as flying cars.
As the eldest of eight – one of whom was born a few weeks ago – Morris spends a lot of time playing with his younger siblings. The oldest, Chloe, is 13 and a student at William Monroe. His other sisters are 9 and 3 and the newborn and siblings are 8, 2 and 1.
“The house can be overheated,” he laughed.
When he’s not spending time with his family, Morris enjoys playing video games – mostly PlayStation games. Until recently, it was limited to single games due to the slow internet at home.
“When I came home from school, I (usually) would play video games – I didn’t have much to do,” he said. “And then when we had the internet, I could pursue my passion more because I can do things; I took 17 classes last year just to explore my interests.”
Among the additional classes were Economics (not taught locally but available through Virtual Virginia) and Computer Science Principles – which require Internet resources. He also studied Physics through Virtual Virginia as well as several dual enrollment courses with PVCC.
“I didn’t need to study limited mathematics for my associate’s degree – because I studied calculus – but I really enjoy studying mathematics; I just took it to learn more,” he said. “I took AP Statistics; I took a lot of math courses because I enjoy math. I would like to major in it, but I don’t know how that would work out in a career.”
When he’s not busy with math and science, Morris also enjoys exploring ancient world cultures and myths, which he was able to do fully with his new home internet access.
“In the ninth and tenth grades, my parents didn’t have internet at home, so I was somewhat limited to seven classes a day at school,” he said. “(Last year) I was completely virtual, so it allowed me to take a lot more lessons than I would have been able to.”
Morris heard about QuestBridge from English teacher Jennifer Bates.
“I’ve enjoyed getting to know Lynn this year,” Bates said. “He is very laid-back and has a good sense of humor. Although I don’t think English is his preferred subject, he does very well in my class.”
Biology teacher and BRVGS advisor Mike Patterson has known Morris since he took on Advanced Biology as a freshman.
“Even at such a young age, his curiosity and love for science were evident,” Patterson said. “He was a strong student with an excellent work ethic and drive into education since entering high school. He went from my class to take AP Biology and is now back with me for my (Governor School) graduation project.”
“Lynn has always been a fun student,” Patterson continued. “He has a great personality and loves to learn. He enjoys working with others and has excellent conversations with those around him. I am very proud to have had the opportunity to teach Lin on multiple occasions and wish him all the best in his future endeavours.”
According to a press release from QuestBridge, this year’s 1,674 contestants are the largest number of annual recipients to date. These students have an average (unweighted) GPA of 3.93 and 92% are in the top 10% of their graduating class. Financially, 95% come from a household with an annual income of less than $65,000, and 87% are eligible for free or reduced-price school lunches. The majority of these new QuestBridge scholars – 81% – are among the first generation in their family to have attended a four-year university.
America has an undiscovered population of talented young people with low incomes. Some of our brightest young minds are well-suited to opportunity but are disconnected due to a simple lack of information, guidance, and other insurmountable barriers,” according to QuestBridge’s mission statement at Questbridge.org. According to the site, each year more than 30,000 high school students from low-income backgrounds are academically qualified. to attend the best colleges in the country—but more than 80% of them don’t apply to attend one, assuming they can’t afford ivy’s periodic education.
QuestBridge also provides ongoing support to scholarship recipients through the QuestBridge Scholars Network, connecting scholars and alumni to social resources and opportunities at various universities. In 2021, QuestBridge also launched a scholarship program to graduate from the school. Learn more at www.questbridge.org.
“We are very proud of Lynn,” said mother Crystal Morris. “He worked so hard to make it happen. We are really grateful for the opportunity (and hopefully he will continue to reach for the stars and never stop. … Words really can’t explain how proud we are of him.”)
In addition to thanking Bates for telling him about QuestBridge, Morris wanted to thank former Director of Consulting Angelina Santos, current Director of Consulting Erin Christmas and college advisor Quentin Milligan for all their help with his essays during the application process.