Birmingham senior Jillian Jolly accepts $300,000 full ride to Yale University with help of citywide program

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin congratulates Ramsay High School senior Jillian Jolly for her scholarship to Yale University. They are joined by Jillian’s mother, Jacqueline Harrell. (Photo by Daniel Roth, City of Birmingham)

Ramsay High School senior Jillian Jolly is going to Yale in the fall. Find out how the College Choice Foundation, an Alabama-based nonprofit, helped the 18 year old from Birmingham achieve her lifelong goal of attending the school of her dreams, all on a full ride scholarship.

The Journey to Yale

Even with her 4.4 GPA and high academic standing within her senior class, Jolly was unsure she’d ever be able to get into Yale. After all, only five percent of applicants make the cut each year.

“I always heard that Yale was the school where smart people went. It was the top school, and I wanted to be there,’’ she said.

She had her doubts about applying, but thanks to her tireless efforts, encouragement from her teachers at Ramsay and a program called the College Choice Foundation, Jolly has accepted a full-ride, four-year scholarship worth nearly $300,000.

“It’s not just a big accomplishment for me, it’s a win for the whole community. I don’t look at it as, ‘Jillian got into Yale.’ I look at it as everyone benefits from it,” she said.

Ramsay High senior Jillian Jolly, center, takes a selfie with Birmingham City Schools Superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring, far right; senior Kennedy Whisenant, a far left, and junior Micaiah Collins on May 1 after announcing she plans to attend Yale University. (Photo by Chanda Temple, City of Birmingham )
Ramsay High senior Jillian Jolly, center, takes a selfie with Birmingham City Schools Superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring, senior Kennedy Whisenant and junior Micaiah Collins on May 1 after announcing her plans to attend Yale University. (Photo by Chanda Temple, City of Birmingham )

Yale University wasn’t the only place to accept Jolly with open arms and a full ride. She amassed over $2.3 MILLION in scholarship money to the 12 schools to which she applied. Including:

  • Wake Forest University
  • Howard University
  • University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • Boston College, Tuskegee University
  • Boston University
  • Emory University
  • Washington University in St. Louis
  • Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas
  • Berea College
  • George Washington University

College Choice Foundation

The College Choice Foundation is an Alabama-based organization that helps high-achieving and academically talented students from low-income families with the college application process. Funded by donations, it helps students primarily in Homewood and Birmingham public school find their best and most affordable college fit.

The program aids qualifying students with:

  • Help with identifying potential colleges
  • Covering costs for multiple college visits
  • ACT prep classes
  • Financial aid application assistance
  • College scholarship interview prep
  • Resume assistance
  • College application essay review
  • College application fee $$
  • Weekly one-on-one mentoring
  • Continued guidance throughout college
Ramsay High School senior Jillian Jolly is surrounded by classmates on National Signing Day, which is when many seniors across the country reveal their college choice. Jillian announced that she has received a full-ride scholarship to Yale University, has been accepted by 12 colleges, and has amassed more than $2 million in scholarship offers. (Photo by Chanda Temple, City of Birmingham)
Ramsay High School senior Jillian Jolly is surrounded by classmates on National Signing Day, which is when many seniors across the country reveal their college choice. Jillian announced that she has received a full-ride scholarship to Yale University, has been accepted by 12 colleges, and has amassed more than $2 million in scholarship offers. (Photo by Chanda Temple, City of Birmingham)

Jolly’s Start with the College Choice Foundation

Jolly applied to the College Choice Foundation during her junior year as she began to narrow her sights on the Ivy League school.

“What kept me going was I trusted the process. I believed in the work that I put in, and I had to give it a shot,’’ she said. “I took a leap of faith and took risks.’’

Jolly is the program’s was their first student from the school system, and also the first true ivy league scholarship student to receive assistance from the program.

“Jillian is an extraordinary student. She is going to change the world,’’ said Josephine Lowery, president and co-founder of College Choice Foundation. “Yale is lucky to have her.’’

This fall, Jolly plans to major in psychology and later become a surgeon.

“I’m giving a lot of hope to people,’’ Jillian said. “When I tell people where I’m going, you should see them light up. They see the opportunity and feel that they can do it. ’’

Ramsay High School in Birmingham. (Photo by Bham Now)
Ramsay High School in Birmingham. (Photo by Bham Now)

How to Apply to the College Choice Foundation:

The organization is now accepting applications for the 2019/2020 school year. The deadline to apply is May 24, 2019. Applicants must have the following qualifications:

  • Be a rising junior or senior
  • Currently enrolled in a Birmingham or a Homewood public city school
  • Have at least a 3.5 GPA

For more information, visit the College Choice Foundation website.