She was also voted “Most Positive” by her classmates!
Tatyana Alves took a risk in 2019, deciding then to sign up for a new Detroit school that required an entrance examination, USA Today reports. Its mission was apparently focused on nurturing “critical thinkers and community-minded citizens who have the skills and knowledge to be makers and leaders in the 21st century.”
“Our school isn’t as well known, given that it is new. I wanted to be challenged and I feel that an application school does that. I feel that application high schools are filled with a lot of opportunities,” Tatyana explained.
With that Tatyana and her family took a chance, enrolling with a social justice and engineering track alongside 119 other hopeful students at The School at Marygrove in Detroit. Still she couldn’t have prepared for what was coming, navigating the stress of a global pandemic and the pivot to virtual learning during her sophomore year. The 17-year-old admits, it was extremely difficult.
“It was one of the roughest transitions that I’ve ever been through. I was in a dark space, but I got out of it,” she said.
After returning to campus, she became known for her positivity. Offering “great morning” greetings and making sure to tell everyone to have a “beautiful day.” When asked how she’s doing, her answer is always “amazing.” She used that same positivity to bring up her grades too, her mother Acquanetta Windham promising Tatyana she could get a job if she was able to secure a 4.0 GPA.
So, that’s what she did, pulling her GPA up first from a 2.7 to a 3.3, and turning around again and bringing it all the way to a perfect 4.0. Soon after, she started her job as a sales associate at a local CVS. Proving to herself that she could do it was just the first step, and Tatyana began looking for other goals to accomplish.
“If I was going to be independent, I had to be fully independent. So, I couldn’t get a job and then ask my mom to drive me to work,” she explained.
So after Tatyana got her driver’s license, her mom gave her a car to get back and forth from school and work. It was the first time Tatyana said she started to feel more independent. Now the teen is preparing to graduate, earning more than $1.7 million in scholarship offers. As one of 95 in the first graduating class at Marygrove, it’s a pretty impressive feat and one Tatyana says she’s grateful for.
She credits her friends, peers and teachers for helping her get here, Tatyana listing everyone who supported her on a certificate she keeps in a folder next to all of her scholarship awards. Her class voted her “Most Positive,” a title she wears with pride.
“I just want other people to thrive. Being positive helped me to find my purpose, and I think I’ve made an influence on a lot of people,” said Tatyana.
She is the first of Windham’s children to attend college and her mom said she’s very impressed with Tatyana and all she was able to accomplish.
“I’m so proud of her. When she first went to high school, it was kind of rough. But she exceeded all expectations. Even during the loss of my dad and different challenges, she just continued to prosper. I tell her ‘Don’t let yesterday be your today.’ And I also tell her ‘Don’t let the unnecessary stress overwhelm you.’ Keep your vibe and stay exactly as you are,” said Windham.
It seems as though Tatyana took her advice. After graduation, she’s headed to Eastern Michigan University to pursue a degree in business administration. She wants to encourage other students looking to secure scholarships to do four things; stay connected to teachers and adults who care about your future, let everyone know you’re applying for scholarships including the people at your extracurricular activities, use your time scrolling on your phone to look for scholarships and start as early as you can, and make sure you always stay present and positive.
Cover photo: Detroit teen earns more than $1.7 million in scholarship offers/Photo Courtesy of Tatyana Alves/USA Today