A few weeks ago, a 21-year-old from Hinesville had the opportunity to meet Oprah Winfrey during her final week on air to thank her for her role in paying for his college education.
Dominique Everett was one of 300 Oprah Scholars who surprised Winfrey during her final show, which was taped at the United Center in Chicago, for investing in their education at Morehouse College in Atlanta.
The scholarship pays most of Everett’s fees at the college, a historically all-male, African-American, post-secondary education institution. Everett, who is majoring in physics and minoring in mathematics, graduated from Bradwell Institute in 2008.
“I’ve grown up in Hinesville from fourth grade. I never thought I would experience something like this. I’m from Hinesville, Ga., and I was able to physically interact with Oprah Winfrey,” Everett said.
He said he got the scholarship partially because his brother, Ernest L. Everett IV, also went to the historic college, which has a price tag of more than $35,000 a year for a student who lives on campus.
“He was selected as an Oprah Scholar his college freshman year, 2008, and has been an Oprah Scholar ever since,” said his mother, Andrea Everett, who admitted she cried during the whole show when it aired. “There are certain requirements — your grade point average is one of the main factors.”
In order to maintain the scholarship, Everett said he is required to give back to the community in some way while keeping up his grades at the college and participating in activities that pertain to his field of study.
“Winfrey is currently the college’s top donor, having given a total of $12 million since 1989. It was during that year’s commencement that she declared she wanted to help educate black men,” according to Morehouse College’s website, www.morehouse.edu.
This week, Everett also will make a trip to Africa to sit on a presidential roundtable to discuss energy efficiency for the country with ambassadors, African presidents and other young officials.
“There will be presidents, ambassadors from all regions in Africa coming to this one meeting and having a discussion about Africa as a whole continent and how they can move more efficiently and more effectively toward energy efficiency,” he said of the trip that is funded by a scholarship through Morehouse’s leadership center. “I really want to have a better understanding and build more knowledge about what’s going on in Africa from a political standpoint and from science as well. There will be a lot of physics in it. It will just broaden my horizons and I will come back to the states and share with individuals in our community and just pass the word so we become more aware and less ignorant.”
Upon his return, Everett will work as a research intern with the Georgia Institute of Technology for the rest of the summer, focusing on research within his field.
“My ultimate goal after earning of my bachelor’s, I want to go and focus on robotics — human prosthetics in robotics and ultimately earn my Ph.D. in mechanical engineering or physics,” Everett said.
The project Everett will work on has not yet been determined, but likely will include biological or robotic locomotion, according to Daniel Goldman, assistant professor in the Georgia Institute of Technology’s school of physics.
As for his experience on Winfrey’s set, Everett said meeting celebrities who happened to be backstage at the show — such as Queen Latifah and Will and Jada Pinkett Smith — and bonding with the other scholars is something he won’t ever forget.
“It was a phenomenal experience, just being around the other scholars. When we got on stage, it was very moving how such a big crowd of 1,800 people are just supporting you and supporting what you stand for,” Everett said. “A tear came to my eye. I actually got to meet the woman who granted me the funding and I actually got to hug her. It was very moving.”