Crockett High School student Chrisdalyia Howard is named the Joyce Ivy Foundation Summer Scholar for 2012. Chrisdalyia has selected Cornell as the Ivy League school she will attend for three weeks during the summer. (Photo by Max Ortiz / The Detroit News)
Detroit — Scoring all A's in her classes is not good enough for 10th-grader Chrisdalyia Howard.
"She wants to be at college-level right now, so we spend time after school working on her A papers, to take them to that next level," said Ray Stoeser, her pre-Advanced Placement English teacher.
The next level begins when Chrisdalyia, 16, a student at Crockett High School on Detroit's east side, steps onto the campus of Cornell University next week as a Joyce Ivy Foundation Summer Scholar.
She is the only Detroit Public Schools student selected — and among the youngest — out of 70 female high school students across the Midwest, to earn a $5,000 pre-college scholarship.
Students also were selected from Detroit Country Day, Cranbrook Kingswood and the Roeper School, among others. Scholars can choose any Ivy League college, and Chrisdalyia, who plans to major in law or medicine, selected Cornell, which is kicking in an additional $1,000.
She'll spend three weeks at the upstate New York campus, studying body, mind and health from June 23 to July 14. The university only admitted 131 undergraduates from Michigan in 2011-12. "People were asking me why I didn't select Harvard, but I think every school has something to teach me, and plus, Cornell is in New York," she said.
The Joyce Ivy Foundation, based in Ann Arbor, is a nonprofit dedicated to the academic advancement of high-potential female high school students.
Foundation members say Chrisdalyia's academic achievements exceed that potential.
"Most students who receive the scholarships are 11th- and 12th-graders," said foundation board member Clint Wallace. "She had to have a very stellar academic record, and a higher hurdle to overcome, competing against older students."
The honor is especially meaningful to Chrisdalyia and her family, considering her father, Christopher Howard, 45, recently earned his GED.
"I couldn't wait to tell my Granny, because she always told me to walk by faith and not by sight," said Chrisdalyia, sitting on the sofa in her mom's home flanked by her beaming parents. "My Granny was so happy — everybody in my family is thrilled."
Her only trepidation is being away from her family.
"I am so thankful for this opportunity, and I just pray to God that I'll be OK," said Chrisdalyia.
Her parents, who have five children and helped raise two other relatives, are reluctant to see their eldest daughter leave for part of the summer.
"I'm not surprised at all that she won the scholarship. But I get tears in my eyes, even now, just thinking about her out there by herself because of the way the world is now," her father said.
Earlena Graves, 44, said she is working overtime to raise spending money for her daughter while she's at Cornell.
"I am very close to all of my kids, but she's still my baby, and still crawls up on my lap, and even sleeps in my bed when she has nightmares," Graves said. "When I heard she won the scholarship, it was one of my proudest moments, and I just wish my mother and father could have been here to share it."
Only three other DPS students have been selected in the foundation's seven-year history.
"We try to recruit scholarship applicants from the Detroit Public Schools every year, and we wish we had more applicants," said Wallace.
The fact that a Crockett student was selected does not surprise principal Deborah Hurst.
"Chrisdalyia Howard is an outstanding student who is committed to her goals," said Hurst. "Add her ability and drive to family support and guidance from a great counselor, and the results are stellar! Chrisdalyia Howard has all the 'right stuff.'"
Guidance counselor Gwendolyn Mia, who led a fund drive to help with expenses, encouraged Chrisdalyia to apply for the scholarship. "Chrisdalyia leads her 10th-grade class with integrity and commitment to learning, and she's not only striving to be the best, but feels it's important to help others along the way," she said.