NEW ORLEANS – He is a senior at 16. His grade point average is 4.98. Even before graduating from high school, he has earned 27 college credits and, perhaps the most impressive numbers of all, he has scholarship offers from around 130 colleges and universities that, as of Thursday, totaled more than $9 million.
Dennis Maliq Barnes’ achievements at the International High School of New Orleans are a source of pride for school administrators who are looking into whether Barnes has set a record for scholarship offers. But it wasn't a record he was looking for as he piled up around 200 applications to colleges around the nation. It was about making sure he had plenty of options.
“I just kept going forward, kept applying, kept applying to different schools that I thought would even remotely interest me,” he said in an interview — occasionally interrupted by the rumble of streetcars rolling by outside as he sat in the urban charter school's computer room.
His plan is to major in computer science as an undergraduate. But he also said he has done work as an intern at the Louisiana State Bar Association — the offices are a short walk from the high school campus — and that has him thinking about law school.
He credits a strong Christian religious faith as part of his success. He also gives a lot of credit to Denise James, the school's college admissions counselor.
James and Head of School Adierah Berger both describe Barnes as a leader and an example to other students — including the school's English language learners.
“He's a great translator,” James says of Barnes, who is fluent in Spanish. “They do not have to ask him. If he sees that they need assistance, he will offer assistance and just take over.”
Barnes, born and raised in New Orleans, hasn't determined how far from home his college journey will take him. If, after weighing his offers, he finds that something close to home will fit his needs, he will stay in the area.
But Barnes is intrigued by the idea of going farther away. “I would love to see something new,” he said.