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KHS Senior Selected as Gates Scholar

Kirkwood High School (KHS) senior Khalil Webb was selected as a Gates Scholar and member of The Gates Scholarship Class of 2023, earning him funding for the entire cost of attending college. He was one of 750 scholars chosen from a pool of over 51,000 applicants across the country. Less than 1.5% of students who apply are accepted for this prestigious award. Khalil plans to continue his education at the University of Michigan this fall.


Khalil started his career in Kirkwood schools at Robinson Elementary, then transitioned to Nipher Middle School and on to KHS. While he feels much admiration for many of his teachers, Khalil made a special connection with this KHS English teacher, Dr. Siamo Drew. Khalil met Drew as a freshman in his Language Arts class. They stayed connected during his sophomore and junior year, and now Khalil has Drew again as a teacher for his Senior Lit Composition II class. "Dr. Drew has been a big inspiration for me,” said Khalil. “He has always been a supportive male figure. I had him as a teacher my freshman year and now again as a senior. My entire time at KHS, I have been able to talk to him about anything. He really helps me process my decisions."


Drew shared that while Khalil has grown and navigated life experiences, his maturity and positive mindset have always been remarkable for a high school student. “Khalil is one of the most steady and self-aware students I have ever taught,” said Drew. “Khalil radiates warmth, acceptance, and recognition of his peers; in turn, they recognize him for his perspective and clarity. He thinks before he speaks and rarely if ever impulsively reacts to a classmate's words or actions.”


Khalil’s recognition of peers and positivity runs deep amongst his senior class cohort group. His classmates find his positivity and warm smile infectious. Classmate Brooke Bendoff got to know Khalil better this school year, as Khalil volunteered to be a manager of the KHS girl’s basketball team, which Brooke is a member of. “Khalil is uplifting,” said Brooke. “He would help us out when we were down. His favorite saying is: ‘It's a great day to be great.’ He is so positive. You really can't have a bad day around him. If you are, he finds a way to make it better.”


In addition to supporting the girl's basketball team, Khalil is also a member of the KHS football team, track team, and Pep Nation. He is also a member of the KHS DECA club. He recently placed 4th in the DECA Districts “Sports Management and Marketing” category for developing an online gym application. His pep nation class and internship for COLLAB allowed Khalil to further his knowledge and ability in marketing campaigns. He combined his love of sports and marketing skills and put together social media campaigns in his role as team manager. “The girls team deserves to have fans in the bleachers just like the boy’s team, and it was a fun season to be a part of,” said Khalil.


Khalil’s application for the Gate’s scholarship has been a year in progress, which began last spring with the encouragement of his beloved Grandma (Gigi). “Gigi encouraged me to go for it,” said Khalil. Throughout his senior year, Khalil has continued volunteering for Youth Leadership Academy, working hard in the classroom and keeping a positive mindset. “She told me to keep doing what you are doing and go for it.” His Gigi and mom, Kashita Webb, were two of the first to hear about his acceptance as a Gates Scholar after he received the news via email. He took a screenshot of the messages and texted both women. “I was with friends when I got his text,” said Kashita Webb. “I just started screaming, ‘he got the Gates Scholarship! He got the Gates Scholarship! I am just so proud of him for keeping up with the schoolwork and staying positive. Words can't express how proud I am of him.” Khalil also has three siblings, Kyndalll, Kamal, and Kash.


As he transitions from KHS to college, Khalil has shifted his focus to career aspirations. He plans on majoring in nursing and pursuing a career to be a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA). Some childhood illnesses he battled and overcame were a source of inspiration for his career path. "I want to be able to help people, and am excited to learn how this part of my body affects that part of the body,” said Khalil. While Khalil knows that being away from home will be tough, he feels it will be a bit easier as he will be 15 minutes from his fellow KHS football teammate and friend Deion Brown, who is continuing his education at Eastern Michigan.


As Khalil transitions from a Pioneer to a Wolverine, one thing will stay the same: his attitude and aura. “When that alarm goes off every day, you can press snooze, or you can wake up and choose to be great.” 


More about the Gates Scholarship:

The Gates Scholarship (TGS) is a highly selective, last-dollar scholarship for outstanding, minority, high school seniors from low-income households. Each year, the scholarship is awarded to exceptional student leaders with the intent of helping them realize their maximum potential. In addition to funding your undergraduate education, The Gates Scholarship helps students to continue to hone their leadership skills, prepare for professional life, and start building an enduring network of fellow Scholars and other distinguished individuals. Recipients also have access to support services, including mentoring, leadership development, wellness, career guidance, internship and job opportunities, and more. For more information, visit: