If there was an award for Most Successful College Scholarship Applicant,
Ralph Etienne would probably win it.
The accomplished Spring Valley High School senior has about half a dozen scholarships to his name — easily worth $100,000 or more — as he prepares to head to Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business in the fall.
“Become the next Steve Jobs.”
With the help of his guidance counselor, Marc Pollard, Etienne completed the essay-heavy application processes for as many scholarships as he could, ensuring that virtually all of his college career is paid for.
Pollard describes Etienne as a “dynamic” young man.
“Every year you have a few kids that really embrace the scholarship application process and see it through,” he said.
Etienne was ambitious to say the least.
He was awarded the prestigious Gates Millennium Scholarship, which is given to 1,000 students in the U.S. each year. It provides college students with financial assistance, mentoring, leadership development opportu
nities, academic and social support.
He is one of two Lower Hudson Valley students named 2014 Gates Millennium scholars. Vivanco Ze
nyase of Lakeland High School in Shrub Oak is the other.
Etienne also received a Foot Locker Scholar Athletes award, which provides $20,000 over four years to pursue a degree. Winners must demonstrate academic excellence and show their strength of character and devotion to their sports, as well as their communities. Etienne was one of 20 finalists selected out of 27,510 applicants.
Etienne’s parents are from Haiti and his older sister is a nurse. He said his experience at Spring Valley High School over the last four years — as many popular clubs and programs were cut during the district’s financial crisis — has strengthened his ability to handle disappointment, even if it was difficult lesson that had to be learned.
At the same time, he and friends were motivated to speak to the Board of Education to protest cuts they couldn’t bear to lose — like the thespian troupe and the Key Club — and those efforts were successful, with funding for the clubs maintained.
His other activities include volunteer relief work for Haitians impacted by the 2010 earthquake; varsity tennis; NAACP Youth Council; and the Science Olympiad team.