Dennis Maliq Barnes
By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior
Teenager Dennis Barnes has shattered multi-million-dollar records and gaining interest from colleges and universities everywhere. Barnes, who goes by his middle name Maliq, is a senior at International High School in New Orleans and has earned more than $9 million in scholarship money during the college application process. In shattering the previous record of $8.7 million, Barnes received 170 acceptances from 200 applications. Barnes told the New Orleans NBC News station, “I started to apply to schools, and as I’ve gone through the process, the numbers just started increasing.” Barnes and school counselor Denise James worked to shatter the $8.7 million record after Barnes realized he was close. The record is further impressive because there are no third-party scholarships. Instead, all his offers came directly from the schools. Barnes first spent many hours applying to schools around the country, he told NBC News. However, as a teenager, school, and extracurriculars took precedence over his pursuit. “I was still doing other things,” Barnes said. “I did incorporate it into my schedule one way or another, but I just did it whenever I had time.” Barnes’ participation in track and basketball and serving as the National Honors Society executive president made him a well-rounded applicant. He has a 4.98 GPA and speaks Spanish through an immersion school. That primary school foundation was imperative in his decision to attend International High School. “That school was very important for me and my journey,” he told the network. “They set a strong foundation for me going into high school, and I think that’s a big reason I could say I am where I am today.” International High School opened in 2009, when Barnes graduated from middle school. The school’s strong language department, which provides French, Spanish, Arabic, and Mandarin, was a big lure for him, as he wanted to practice his Spanish. “There are plenty of options at the school that I could have chosen from to continue with my languages, be able to strengthen them, and continue to learn,” Barnes said. Barnes immediately impacted the charter school despite combining his sophomore and junior years into one with a dual enrollment at Southern University in New Orleans. He also noted International High School’s academic reputation. “They are known for putting out million-dollar scholars, so whenever the idea was presented to me by my counselor, I hopped on board,” he said. Barnes advised prospective college students to value education, especially African American students. “There’s always something in the news for athletics. And I think there’s a stigma put on African Americans — probably others, too,” he said about academic success. “I think that doing well in school and understanding the importance of education is something that could break that stigma.” Barnes credits his parents and James for his success. James helped him apply to institutions, prepare for college, and dual enrollment. “She has guided me and instructed me in my best interest; that will move me forward,” he stated. “James has helped me get where I am.” Barnes said he’s grateful and excited about all scholarships and acceptances. Still, he insists that he’s incredibly proud of those from well-known institutions like Xavier and LSU and other schools that traditionally don’t provide many scholarships. Barnes now aims to exceed $10 million in scholarships and acceptances in the coming days. With 170 acceptances, he said he’s being more selective and won’t hedge on which school he’ll choose. Barnes plans to decide by May 2.