'That Fueled Me'

February 21, 2023

Scholarships Open Doors: Chris Harvell, B.S. '98

When Chris Harvell, B.S. ’98, an academically inclined student in D.C.’s Dunbar High School’s pre-engineering program, was called into his guidance counselor’s office one day in his senior year, he didn’t know what to expect.

“I was like ‘What’s going on?’ and I was actually mad because I was missing my AP classes,” he said with a laugh. “I was worried it was going to impact my grade.”

Inside the counselor’s office at Dunbar High School – which was founded in 1870 as the nation’s first public high school for Black children – was a George Washington University recruiter who was scouting talented D.C. public school students as candidates for the 21st Century Scholarship, now known as the Stephen Joel Trachtenberg Scholarship, a full, four-year scholarship covering tuition, room and board, books and fees at the university.

"Academics was my sport, so when the GW rep came to my school, it felt like how my friends would describe college coaches coming and talking to them about their sport," Harvell recalled. "There's something to be said about a scholarship making students feel wanted and desired."

During his time at GW, Harvell continued to push himself academically, enrolling in summer classes, holding multiple internships, volunteering at the Multicultural Student Services Center and serving in the Black Student Union.

"Every day that I was there, my scholarship was the thing that fueled me," he said. "Every time I was in the classroom, I was competing against myself because I wanted to perform at my highest level, just like an athlete."

Read the full article to learn more about Harvell and his journey after GW on GW Today.