A Monticello High School student Wednesday received one of the nation’s top honors for high school students.
Sean Means, who will attend Stanford University in the fall, has been inducted into the Ron Brown Scholars Program, a national organization that benefits African-American high school seniors who have shown a commitment to leadership.
“One of the most important reasons why we chose Sean is not just because of his academics, but what people in the school felt about him, how the community felt about him, and how he gave back to the community,” Michael Mallory, President and Executive Director of the Ron Brown Scholars Program, said of the MHS football and debate teams member.
Since its inception in 1996, 117,000 students have applied to be scholars. Means is now only one of 340 ever selected. What’s more, Means is one of 26 scholars nationally in the 2014 class, the only student from Virginia, and the first student from Central Virginia.
While in college, the program provides scholars with mentoring and internship experiences, as well as $40,000 of financial assistance. However, Mallory said the program isn’t all about the money.
“It’s more about the community that we build,” Mallory said. “We anticipate these young leaders…will be good public servants.”
Means, who plans to study International Relations and Political Science before attending law school, said he’s excited about joining the Ron Brown community.
“The idea that I’ll have that helpful backing is really the important thing for me,” Means said.
Monticello High School Principal Jesse Turner said Means is a rare breed.
“Sean Means is one of the most unique, brilliant, down-to-earth, caring, and collaborative young people I’ve probably ever worked with,” Turner said. “Sean is known throughout the entire building, and students see him. He’s just the epitome of hard work, dedication, and making good decisions.”
Means credits his mother for shaping him as a person.
“She’s had a big impact on my life,” Means said. “The way she’s taken care of my brother and sister and me, she’s helped guide us and helped shape us into good people.”
Means also said that Turner and the MHS community played a significant role.
“[Dr. Turner] really cares for the student body and helping us all out,” Means said. “And having teachers and administration and guidance counselors who want to help you, want to encourage you, and want you to do well. It’s not just for me, it’s the entire student body.”
Means considers his first community service experience helping his siblings complete their homework in elementary school. Then, the MHS senior said, service moved outside the house to include tutoring other students at his school, and then to a service camp in Memphis, Tennessee.
“It was really an eye-opener,” Means said of his experience painting and repairing houses for those in need. “It’s a lot of work and it’s in the hot summer sun, but afterwards, when you see that person’s face, and you see how much you’ve changed their life…it really shows how just a little act of good can go a long way.”
Mallory said the program is pleased with its selection.
“The most important thing, I think, that communities need are leaders,” Mallory said. “We found the most talented young leader in Sean.”