Grad offered $700,000 in scholarships, aid

Photo courtesy of Amanda Amen
Amanda Amen (right) stands with her father, Alan Amen, at an event earlier this year.

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — Amanda Amen never will forget a time when she was a bit nervous.

It was late March and the 18-year-old Dearborn High School student was waiting a few minutes before an interview from her prospective school at Washington University in St. Louis, Miss., trying to wrap her mind around the future.

“I said, ‘The outcome of this interview will play a role in the rest of my life,’ which it did,” Amen said.

After finishing up the interview, Amen went home and shortly after received a phone call from Washington University telling her she was accepted.

Amen was offered $720,000 in college scholarships including $40,000 from Wayne State University, $90,000 from Kalamazoo College, $118,000 from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and two full-ride scholarships totaling $464,000 from Washington University.

After accepting the offer at Washington University, a private school with an undergraduate enrollment of more than 7,000 students, Amen’s two scholarships were split in half and she will be dual ly-enrolled under the two scholarship programs.

She said she chose Washington University for a variety of reasons, with the full-ride scholarship as a determining factor.

When she told her friends and family she started to get emotional.

“All the pressure that built up had been released and I started crying,” Amen said. “I’m like, ‘What’s wrong with me?’”

Amen said her dream of becoming a doctor, either as a neurologist or primary care physician, continues to motivate her.

“I am so passionate about it and I cannot wait for that point in my life,” Amen said. “I want to do my best now so I can be the best I can be later as doctor.”

She was inspired to want to go into the medical field because of personal experiences.

“One of my best friends’ brother has epilepsy and I have kind of seen what the family has to deal with throughout his life,” Amen said. “And knowing you can make a difference in someone’s life who is dealing with such a chronic illness would mean a lot to me.

“It has the academic reputation and also I wanted to be somewhat close to home because my family is really important to me,” Amen said. “Plus when I visited the campus I had that gut feeling.”

That gut feeling of choosing her career path has kept Amen focused and college ready, her father, Alan Amen, said.

“It is not difficult to keep a person like Amanda motivated,” Alan Amen said. “She grabs the bull by the horns and gets going… she is a self motivated individual. She is a dynamo with a self-starting engine.”

Amanda Amen said her entire family helped her to get to where she is today.

“My parents have always encouraged me to do whatever I want,” Amanda Amen said. “They have never tried to get me into one thing but they have always told me the importance of getting an education and doing my best in school.”

Amen has support from her mentors as well. Dearborn Public School Board of Education Member Roxanne McDonald said Amen has a tremendous future ahead of her.

“She has grace and integrity beyond her years and is certainly a point of pride for our district,” McDonald said.

Often during Amanda Amen’s studies, she awoke at 3 a.m. to study after sleeping off a long day of sports. But because of exhaustion she often missed her alarm clock, but someone was there looking out for her.

“My little brother would set his alarm,” Amanda Amen said. “He would come wake me up and go back to sleep to make sure I got out of bed. That meant so much to me, and my mom would do that.

“It really did take the whole family… I appreciate them so much for that,” Amen said. “Not only was I able to achieve my dream by going to a top school but… knowing that I didn’t have to take the financial burden of it and my parents didn’t have to worry about paying for it. I worked so hard for those four years and it paid off in such a big way.”

(Sherri Kolade can be reached at