news-category: Admissions

Eight Students Win Gardner-Webb’s Ignite Excellence Full-Tuition Scholarship

a landscape shot of the GWU quad

Winners from North Carolina, Alabama, New York, and Illinois Receive Award Valued at $33.7K per Year

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—The winners of Gardner-Webb University’s most competitive academic scholarship—Ignite Excellence—have been announced. These eight high school seniors rose above the 288 top-ranked students who came from 19 states to participate in on-campus interviews.

“This really was an amazingly accomplished group of finalists, and we are thrilled to welcome each of these high-ability students to GWU,” praised Gardner-Webb President Dr. William M. Downs. “It’s good to see top students making our University their top choice, and the full-tuition scholarships will ensure a fast start for all of these new Runnin’ Bulldogs.  I’m eager to get them to campus in August and to watch them excel in the coming years.”

The 2024 Ignite winners are listed below, with their hometowns and what they plan to study:

  • Ja’Kayla M. Alexander, Shelby, N.C., nursing.
  • Ayden Mackinley Bollinger, Lenoir, N.C., biology.
  • Isaiah D. Brown, Warrior, Ala., criminal justice administration.
  • Naliah Chrisha Codjovi, East Amherst, N.Y., biology.
  • Jessica Marie Horn, Plainfield, Ill., psychology.
  • Elijah David Lewis, Graham, N.C., computer science.
  • Jaylan Robert Mays, Charlotte, N.C., undecided.
  • Lucy A. Merritt, Shelby, N.C., nursing.

Each recipient receives a full-tuition scholarship that covers the cost of tuition for eight semesters. The award is valued at $33,770 per year. The winners have an average GPA of 3.96 noted Molly Allison, director of Admissions for Undergraduate Admissions.

During the interviews, students meet one-on-one with a GWU faculty member. “Our faculty implement a standardized scoring system and ask predetermined questions to evaluate the students,” Allison explained. “Based on these assessments, we select the highest-scoring candidates as our winners.”

The 288 qualified applicants came from:

  • Alabama.
  • Arkansas.
  • Arizona.
  • Florida.
  • Georgia.
  • Hawaii.
  • Illinois.
  • Maryland.
  • Missouri.
  • North Carolina.
  • New Jersey.
  • New York.
  • Ohio.
  • Pennsylvania.
  • South Carolina.
  • Tennessee.
  • Texas.
  • Virginia.
  • Washington.

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to nine colleges and schools, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at

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