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The YE student who made $64,000 in one day

Kevin Dao is rich.

No, he didn’t win the lottery. He wasn’t on the ground floor of a get-rich-quick scheme. He didn’t even inherit money from a mysterious relative.

At 18 years old, the Wichita Southeast High School senior competed against 617 other students from Kansas and surrounding states. And he won – a full-ride scholarship to Wichita State University valued at $64,000.

WSU’s Harry Gore Memorial Scholarship is awarded to three students each year who show leadership and academic skills during an intense competition on its campus that includes interviews, a group discussion and essays. But as the results show, Kevin was ready to seize the opportunity.

“Youth Entrepreneurs definitely prepared me for the competition by growing my leadership and public speaking skills, and showing me how to apply them to all different settings,” said Kevin. “This scholarship gives me the chance to focus on school and my career instead of finances.”

YE’s experiential education model provides students with the skills needed to be successful, not just in business, but in life – giving them the confidence to make their own opportunities in the real world. And while Kevin says he wasn’t sure if he was going to be named a Gore Scholar, there was someone who had no doubt – Kevin’s mentor he met through YE, Marquetta Atkins.

“I wasn’t surprised at all. He encompasses everything that any school would want to have as a leader. I know he’s going to take that scholarship and elevate it to the next level,” beamed Marquetta, who also serves as the community resource director for The Seed House. “I know he’s going to go to WSU and hit the ground running. He’s going to shine.”

Mentors and educators are an integral part of the transformational journey students take while in YE. Marquetta has had the opportunity to mentor many teens in her community. And there are traits she sees in Kevin that she wants other young people to emulate.

“Kevin is fearless. He’s never once said, ‘I can’t do it.’ You have to be ready for every opportunity that presents itself. And Kevin is always on. He’s always ready,” said Marquetta. “He’s also driven. He’s the one sending me messages asking about opportunities and upcoming events. These are all things that make a great entrepreneur.”

This persistence has led Kevin to become a budding entrepreneur, the student body president and now, a scholarship recipient. But most importantly for Kevin, this scholarship also allows him to stay in the city he’s grown up in. It’s one of the main reasons he is so passionate about YE.

“YE creates so many opportunities for high schoolers. And there’s a ripple effect in the community,” said Kevin. “Entrepreneurs like me are being homegrown. This scholarship allows me to stay in my community and make an impact.”

Yes, Kevin Dao is rich. And with the help of YE, his mentor, Marquetta, and $64,000, his community will be richer for having him in it for at least four more years.