Colleges award Lake Forest senior nearly $2 million

HARRINGTON — For Lake Forest High School senior Daia Daniels, applying to one college wasn’t enough.

Sixty-three college applications later, she’s been awarded with almost $2 million towards college and received only one rejection letter.

“I tell them all, ‘Don’t put all your eggs in one basket,’” Guidance Counselor Ivy Truitt said. “All of these [financial awards] are merit because she hasn’t even applied to scholarships yet.”

Lake Forest High School senior Daia Daniels has been accepted to 62 higher education institutions and awarded nearly $2 million towards the cost of that education. The Journal/Jennifer Antonik

Lake Forest High School senior Daia Daniels has been accepted to 62 higher education institutions and awarded nearly $2 million towards the cost of that education.
The Journal/Jennifer Antonik

For her part, Ms. Truitt claims little in Ms. Daniels’ success.

“My part is to submit the transcripts. She does the rest. For a while, it was like four or five transcripts a day,” she explained. “But then it was four or five acceptance letters a day. One day she stopped me and said she was awarded over $1 million for college.”

“She not only got in, but she got money,” she continued.

When she’s not applying to colleges, Ms. Daniels, 17, stays busy with school, sports and volunteering. She currently maintains a 3.9 GPA, is a member of the National Honor Society and plays volleyball and basketball. She also played soccer during her high school career.

This past summer, the teen volunteered at the Lake Forest Food Pantry Mondays through Thursdays for three hours each day to help serve lunch to area children at the home of another volunteer.

She has also spent time volunteering with the Little Spartans basketball program at the high school, Courtland Manor in Dover and tutoring.

“Really, I want to look fancy for graduation. I get to wear the cord for the National Honor Society, but you get another cord for every 100-hours,” she joked.

“I see it as enjoyable. A lot of people may think if you’re not getting paid, it’s not worth it, but I think it is. If you can, it’ll end up paying off to you in the end.”

Ms. Truitt credits Ms. Daniels’ persistence to helping motivate other seniors this year.

“Now they’re feeding off of one another. I didn’t want her to overwork herself, but her hard work paid off. She is speaking volumes. She’s showing not only her classmates, but the younger ones, too. For a rural area, an agricultural area, coming from a single parent home: she’s a prime example of that success,” she said.

Ms. Daniels said she’ll continue working on her grades and volunteering when she begins attending a college in the fall, although she has yet to make an official decision.

With eyes set on Towson University in Maryland to study athletic training, she has at least 61 other options to consider.

“Towson was my first application and I saw they didn’t do early decision. My GPA is good, but my SAT scores are a little bit of nothing. I wanted plenty of options,” she said.

Including Ms. Daniels’ success thus far, Lake Forest High School’s class of 2016 has already racked up more than $3 million in money towards college.

“And that’s just with three girls,” Ms. Truitt added. “Imagine what we’ll do when scholarships are announced.”

According to Ms. Daniels, Capital University in Ohio offered her the most to attend their institution at $24,000 a year or a total of $96,000 for four years. Old Dominion University in Virginia offered the least at $2,000 a year or a total of $8,000.

She credited a lot of her own success to her mother.

“I think sometimes she gets more excited than I do. I think seeing how determined I am, I think she is really proud seeing that everything she’s been doing is paying off,” she said.

“She always says don’t let the price hold you back from what you want to do. Go with the flow. Go ahead and live in the moment now instead of worrying what’s to come in the future.”

Ms. Daniels said she has a bit of advice of her own for other seniors and members of younger classes.

She said, “Don’t be afraid. It’s a very stressful time, especially if you give yourself goals. But don’t hold anything back. You’re going to get your denial letters. Just push those aside and keep on trucking.”

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