MANSFIELD -- Genesis Bond Hollingsworth has overcome her fair share of challenges, but they haven’t stopped her from dreaming big.
The 16-year-old Mansfield resident recently received a full scholarship to The Madeira School, a private all-girls academy in McLean, Virginia.
“What I’ve seen other people do and the struggles that I’ve gone through myself is really what drives me and encourages me to keep going," Bond Hollingsworth said. “You never know what you can do until you do it. You never know what you’re capable of.”
Bond Hollingsworth recently finished her sophomore year in the Mansfield City Schools’ Tyger Digital Academy. She and her two siblings moved from Pickerington to Mansfield to live with their grandmother in 2017.
“I didn't know if I was going to like it at first. I was coming from a very big city to a very small city. So that was a bit of a change,” she said.
Bond Hollingsworth will head to Virginia in August to begin orientation. The school is just 10 miles from the heart of Washington D.C.
As a junior, she will complete a five-week internship in either a congressional office, lobbying organization, government agency or for a govenrment sub-committee. During her senior year, she’ll complete a second internship in the field of her choice.
The school also has numerous extracurricular options, foreign language courses and study abroad opportunities.
Bond Hollingsworth applied to Madeira through A Better Chance program, which assists and prepares students of color for elite college preparatory schools.
“I didn’t even know about their program until I met a cousin who went through the program in the 60s or 70s,” Bond Hollingsworth said. “At first I was hesitant. I was like, I don’t know if I'm qualified for this.”
She eventually decided she might as well give it her best shot. The program required months of essay writing, applications, workshops, seminars, test prep and mock interviews.
After more than a year of hard work, Bond Hollingsworth made it into her first choice school on a full scholarship. She remembers waiting up the night before decisions were scheduled to be emailed out -- too nervous to go to sleep. The email from Madeira came in at midnight.
“I was happy, screaming -- it was a very good day,” Bond Hollingsworth said.
Numerous factors have motivated her path to the nation's capital -- including being a big sister.
"It comes with a lot of responsibility. You have to watch out for them and be a role model for them," said Bond Hollingworth, the oldest of three children. "It’s very important for me to show them what is possible for them and help in any way for their futures as well.”
After high school, Bond Hollingsworth hopes to attend New York University and double major in pre-med and pre-law -- or at the very least major in one and minor in the other.
“I love medicine but I also love government and politics,” she said.
Her interest in law stems from her work with the local NAACP, as well as national news stories about the asylum seekers along the southern border, the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Bond Hollingsworth said working at the NAACP opened her eyes to the injustices and disparities that people of color face in Mansfield -- especially in terms of local government representation.
“You don’t see many minority judges, paralegals, even just people at the front desk. There aren’t that many African Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans,” she said. “I still believe racism exists in our community because I believe there are plenty of qualified minorities that would be great for those positions.”
“Being able to study that more and how we can make legislation and different laws to change that is what really motivates me to go into law," she said.
She also hopes to study medicine after seeing members of her family deal with their own health issues. Last year, she took a five-week virtual course from Brown University entitled “Black Lives Matter Less: How Structural Racism Affects Health" that further cemented her passion for the topic.
She's also motivated by personal experience.
In August 2019, she began seeking medical treatment after experiencing symptoms like swelling, fatigue and weight gain. A few months later, she was diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome and focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) -- both a disorder and disease which affect the kidneys.
She’s currently in remission.
“I've had health problems in the past, but nothing to the point that required surgery and a lot of medication. So it encouraged me to live life to the fullest and do whatever makes you happy, in the time that you have. Because you never know. You never know if you’ll have tomorrow.”
Prior to attending Madeira, Bond Hollingsworth will take multiple virtual pre-college courses including “Introduction to U.S. Law And The Way Lawyers Think” at Brown University; and a medical intensive through John Hopkins University and the “Solving Global Challenges” session of the Yale Young Global Scholars Program. She received a full scholarship for the Yale program.
"Genesis has always been a super smart kid," said Eunice Bond, her grandmother. "She’s got her goals set and she goes for it. She does the best that she can and she gives it 100 percent.”