2023 Stamps Scholar Dhakiya Knights

NCCA STEM Student Earns Full-Ride Stamps Scholarship to Mercer University
Posted on 03/16/2023
Dhakiya Knights presented certificate for Stamps ScholarshipNewton High School and NCCA STEM Institute senior, Dhakiya Knights has had a week to remember. First, she was announced as the Newton High School Class of 2023 valedictorian. Then just a few days later she learned her college education would be fully funded as she was awarded the full-ride Stamps Scholarship to attend Mercer University. The Stamps Scholarship program will pay both full tuition and fees plus room and board, and also provide Dhakiya with a free Apple iPad. In addition, the Stamps Scholar benefit includes up to a $16,000 enrichment stipend over four years to support study abroad, undergraduate research, unpaid internships, and conference fees and travel.

“I was shocked and excited to learn I had earned this scholarship,” said Dhakiya. “This really takes the weight off the financial pressures of college.”

Dhakiya explained how earning this scholarship would help return the favor for all of the support her parents had provide her throughout her educational career.

“One thing I’ve always wanted to do since my parents worked so hard—they are immigrants—is I’ve always wanted to do better than they have in like advance.,” she explained. “So I see this as like a natural progression. Okay they got me this far now what I want to do is get them to the next step. I don’t want them to have to help me take out loans or anything if that’s possible so to really reach out and be independent and give back this thank you by basically saying hey I got it I can take it to the next level and you’ve done all you can do.”

Dhakiya admitted she hadn’t considered Mercer at first—at least not until the campus visit.

“Mercer wasn’t really on my radar until I went to visit,” she said. “I just really liked the community; they were really welcoming and they just make sure you have a personalized experience. So it just felt really homely and it was the small size that I was looking for. And then I looked and they had all of the potential majors and also the potential minor so they had all of the things that I wanted in one place.”

Dhakiya plans to major in neuroscience with a minor in communication at Mercer. She would then like to pursue advanced degrees. She would like to have a medical degree and potentially a PhD. Ultimately, she would like to become a physician and a biomedical researcher and bridge the gap between research and field medicine.

“I’ve always been interested in science and biology,” said Dhakiya. “But I’ve witnessed a lot of mental health struggles from my peers throughout my life. And I always felt driven to help and I wanted to help. After I came to STEM and learned about lab research and biotechnology I realized I wanted to do both. I want to help people and patients and I also want to do research because I’m really passionate about it and I like writing and being in the lab.”

Dhakiya has worked diligently to prepare herself for the rigors of college, taking numerous Advanced Placement classes to include Psychology, World History, Calculus, Language, Literature, US History, Statistics, Seminar, Macroeconomics, and Biology. She in fact is a well-rounded student who also participated in numerous extracurricular activities including tennis, HOSA, National Honor Society, Beta Club, STEM Council, and the Associate Board of Directors.

“Dhakiya Knights has been an amazing NCCA STEM Institute associate over the past four years,” said Chad Walker, principal of Newton College & Career Academy. “It has been my pleasure to watch her grow and develop into an exceptional young lady inside and outside of the classroom.”

The Stamps Scholars Program emphasizes the students’ initiative, from engaging in philanthropic efforts worldwide to conducting research and demonstrating a passion for improving local communities. Mercer’s Stamps Scholars embody both academic achievement and effective leadership.