One uses poetry to effect social change. The other has worked in the offices of a Los Angeles city councilman, a state senator and a U.S. congressman. Both local students are heading to Ivy League universities with $10,000 scholarships.
New Roads School graduate Amanda Gorman and Crossroads School alumnus Spencer Greene were honored for their numerous achievements through a joint award program of the Santa Monica-based Milken Institute and Milken Family Foundation.
Gorman and Greene are among a group of 15 outstanding Los Angeles-area students to earn the scholarship this year after a competitive nomination, application and interview process. The program has supported more than 400 students during and after their college careers since it was founded in 1989.
“Each has already demonstrated academic excellence, a commitment to community service and the fortitude to overcome adversity,” program co-founder Mike Milken said in a press release. “Many are children of first- and second-generation Americans. We’re pleased to offer them a helping hand and grateful for the opportunity to interact with tomorrow’s leaders.”
Gorman, who plans to study literature and politics when she starts at Harvard University in the fall, was named the inaugural Los Angeles Youth Poet Laureate and is one of four candidates to become the first U.S. youth poet laureate in history.
She also received a grant to launch One Pen One Page, which helps youths use writing to make a social impact. The organization is expanding across the country.
Gorman strives to support youths who have been marginalized. Driven by recent protests over excessive police force, she launched a Black Student Union at New Roads. She also founded Girls Learn International, which focuses on education for girls, and has served as an ambassador and editor for an online platform for teenage girls.
Gorman’s work has been published by nationally distributed newspapers and magazines.
Greene, meanwhile, will attend Brown University following a high school experience at Crossroads that was defined by his involvement in politics.
As an intern for Los Angeles Councilman Mike Bonin, he updates a directory to connect homeless people to a variety of resources. He campaigned for Rep. Ted Lieu through canvassing and phone calls. And he was responsible for a variety of duties, including social media and community events, for State Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), a former member of the local Board of Education.
“I cannot wait to see what the future holds for him,” Allen said in a press release.
Greene’s interest in government flowed into his time at Crossroads, where he was vice president of student council. He also organized events, managed budgets and logged more than 300 hours of community service and served as captain of the Roadrunners varsity volleyball team.
Gorman and Greene highlight a Milken scholars class that also includes Shubhayu Bhattacharyay (Johns Hopkins), Destin Bigsby (UC San Diego), Joseph Chavez (Dartmouth), Ruwanthi Ekanayake (Cornell), Mirna El-khalily (Stanford), Hyo Jung Ha (Williams College), Jose Luquin (Stanford), Pavle Pejovski (UCLA), Simaranjeet Rai (UC Berkeley), Amanda Rizkalla (Stanford), Melisa Santizo (Harvard), Khai Tran (Yale), Dongni Zhao (UC Berkeley).