Jemison High Senior overcomes obstacles to receive full ride to Vanderbilt University, plans to pursue English degree

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - There are plenty of people who lose sight of their goals and settle for less than their best. Mae Jemison High School Senior Isiah Franklin is the exception.

Franklin feels at home in attorney Doug Martinson's office. He's interned with Martinson. In fact, Franklin wants to follow in his footsteps.

"Go to law school after that and become a lawyer," Franklin said of his future plans.

But, this story isn't about what Franklin wants to do, it's about what he's already done.

"I just found out that I've been accepted to Vanderbilt University," Franklin said.

Vanderbilt University costs at least $70,000 a year before scholarships. Franklin's bill won't come close.

"It will be to cover my tuition and room & board," Franklin explained.

Franklin's being humble. His mentor can put this in perspective.

"It's great," Martinson said. "It's a $280,000 scholarship to Vanderbilt. It's one of the top 10 tough schools in the country to get into. It's extremely competitive."

Martinson is one of the Cap and Gown Project's leaders. Cap and Gown is a nonprofit that provides students in minorities, or those from low-income families, a chance to tour colleges. Students like Franklin.

"I didn't have much coming up," Franklin said. "I guess you could look at me as an example to not let your past or your background interfere with the future."

Franklin didn't take the path of least resistance. He took the ACT three times. He improved his score from a 19 to a 29. Franklin scored a 35 in English.

"It took me like a while to get there," Franklin said. "I practiced on a lot of practice tests, like hundreds of practice tests. It's just what I had to do."

Because nothing gets in the way of a student with starry eyes.

"I'm going to study English," Franklin said. "I'm thinking about double majoring in English and political science or English and philosophy."

Regardless of the degree, Franklin's mentors can't measure the ambition and tenacity of this kid from Huntsville.

Franklin discovered his interest in Vanderbilt during one of Cap and Gown's college tours. If you would like to learn more, or donate to, the nonprofit, visit www.capandgownproject.org.