Honor student Justin Hayes of Harlem is feeling pretty good after his acceptance to nearly 30 colleges and receiving $1 million in scholarships.
Hayes attends St. Raymond High School for Boys in the Bronx where he loves math and is in the National Society for High School Scholars. All of the scholarships he’s received are for academics. He is also a student-athlete on the basketball team.
“I’ve been on the honor roll since I was in the fourth grade.” Hayes said in a recent interview with the AmNews. “My role model is my mother. She told me to raise the bar. Academics first and sports after. As soon as I get home I do my homework and I study about three hours a day.”
He first got into sports when he started playing baseball with Harlem Little League from age 5 to 13. Since middle school he’s played basketball. For recreation, he enjoys bowling and swimming.
Like any other teenager he loves hanging out with friends, going out to eat, working out and playing sports. His favorite athletes are Kobe Bryant and Derek Jeter and he’s a fan of rapper Meek Mill. However, even though he likes to have fun, he stays focused on schoolwork maintaining his 93 grade-point average.
To stay focused, Hayes said he wants to shatter the misconceptions about youth from Harlem.
“A lot of people doubt kids from Harlem and I want to prove them all wrong,” he said. “It’s hard sometimes because of distractions. My main goal is to make my mother proud.”
Hayes started receiving college acceptance letters last November. The schools range from historically Black, state, public and private colleges.
Many of the acceptances came with partial scholarships. He said that while he’s thankful for all the scholarships he’s received, he’s hoping to receive a full scholarship in the near future and keeping his options open.
“I felt very excited that I got money from a lot of schools,” he said. “It was a real surprise to me. I never thought I would get that much.”
As far as his career goals, Hayes said he plans to study sports management, physical therapy and criminal justice.
“I want to be a physical therapist. I like to help people stay fit and stay healthy. As a minor, I want to do criminal justice or forensic science. I like solving problems and getting around obstacles,” said Hayes.
Along with meeting his own goals, Hayes wants other teens to take control of their lives and do well in school. He also tutors students at the Children’s Aid Society’s Dunlevy Milbank Center in Harlem. His advice to teens is live outside the box.
“Don’t be afraid to be different and never give up on yourself after one mistake,” he said. “It’s OK to start over and mold yourself into a new person. If there is an obstacle in front of you just run to it.”