BCHS student earns full academic scholarship to Brown University
Caleb Ellis is the first Belle Chasse High School student in recent memory to receive a full academic scholarship to an Ivy League university.
Ellis signed with Brown University Jan. 28 in a ceremony at BCHS that brought out jubilant family members wearing multiple custom-made t-shirts commemorating the event. Ellis, who scored a 35 on the ACT, was calm and quiet while his family members did most of the talking and celebrating. But behind the wry smile and occasional head shakes at all the fuss, Ellis knew the recognition was appropriate.
“I’ve always had my sights set on the Ivy League. That’s always been my dream and I knew I could achieve it,” he said. “The hardest part was getting past the numbers. You look at the 6 percent acceptance rate and you have to come to the conclusion that some people have beaten that acceptance rate. And I have the ability to do it.”
Solving problems has always been one of Ellis’ strengths. He hopes to become a pathologist, studying the causes of diseases and ways to combat them, the same way he has always studied challenges before systematically de feating them.
“I like lab work. I like to examine things and use different pictures to come to conclusions. To piece things together. I’ve always been fascinated with puzzles,” said Ellis.
His family was happy to cosign his approach to life. His mother Cashaldra Robinson, a member of the Air Force’s 159th Fighter Wing at NAS JRB in Belle Chasse, told a story about Caleb studying poolside on a vacation because he wasn’t satisfied with the 31 he had scored on the ACT to that point. His grandmother, Ethel Lawrence, said the family never had to push Caleb to do his school work because he was never satisfied with any grade lower than an A.
In his remarks to the crowd at his signing, Ellis thanked his classmates for “keeping a smile on my face and reminding me there is always time to have fun.” He thanked his teachers at BCHS and Belle Chasse Academy (where he attended prior to his sophomore year) for “allowing me to be myself in your classrooms.”
“Because of you guys I looked for the best of the best with college, because I knew I deserved the best of the best,” said Ellis.
By all accounts, Ellis was a star student as soon as he arrived at BCHS. Principal Jemi Carlone recalled that, as soon as Caleb transferred in, “he got into everything” from Beta Club to offering public comments at a Junior Ring Ceremony that “knocked my socks off.” AP calculus teacher Letitia Reynolds said Caleb brings charisma and wit to the classroom while serving as a role model for his peers when it comes to dedication and hard work.
Carlone said she’s aware of just one other recent BCHS grad attending an Ivy League school. That student is at Dartmouth on a football scholarship.
Dr. Michael Castine, a Gretna physician and former Brown fellow who conducted Ellis’ admissions interview for the university, said Caleb’s “record and accomplishments speak for themselves,” but noted he aced the interview as well.
Ellis’ family, equal parts ecstatic and unsurprised by his Ivy League scholarship, say he was always destined for great things. His great aunts call him “the future president.” His grandmother, a minister, calls him “The General” and says he was named Caleb because he’s a born leader.
“When Joshua accepted the land of the Philistines, it was Caleb who said ‘I’ll take the mountain, I’m not afraid,’” she said.