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Eryn Gordon, Shauna Linn and Dominique Duval -- Johns Hopkins University

For three of Baltimore's brightest high school graduates of 2008, Ivy League universities came calling. But so did their home city. Dominique Duval, Eryn Gordon and Shauna Linn each opted for the latter, able to embrace both a top-notch education and avoid massive student loans through the Johns Hopkins University's Baltimore Scholars program. The university offers full scholarships to students from city public schools who are admitted on their own merits. Each woman faced different obstacles and challenges throughout their experiences on Hopkins' sprawling campus. Along the way, they have served as ambassadors for the city at the world-renowned institution, and two of them plan to stay a part of the city and university communities. "Kids would say, 'Baltimore is so stupid compared to where I'm from,'" Duval said. "I'm very proud of being from here. It made me take a closer look at the city and really seek out its beauties." The three were classmates at Polytechnic Institute, and each had dreams of going to top colleges after graduation. For Linn, it came down to a decision between Hopkins and Brown University; for Gordon, Hopkins narrowly won out over the University of Pennsylvania. But they were told early on in their high school careers that aiming for Hopkins could mean a free education. For Gordon, studies became an outlet to cope with the death of both her parents from cancer. "I sort of had a way to stick my head in the books and distract myself in a positive way from life's hardships," she said. She plans to head to New York after graduation to work as a paralegal and apply to law schools. Linn, inspired by a university-sponsored trip to Uganda and faculty mentors, will start in the fall in Hopkins' environmental health sciences master's degree program. And Duval, offered a spot in the master's in public health program at Columbia University, turned that down to instead find community-based work for a government agency or nonprofit in the city she loves -- Baltimore. "I'm definitely leaving college better than when I entered," Duval said. "I won't be crying that I'm gone [from Hopkins]. Once I find a job and get settled, I'll feel even better." -- Scott Dance
Amy Davis, Baltimore Sun
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