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Sullivan South grad headed to MIT on full scholarship

Rick Wagner • May 27, 2019 at 12:00 PM

KINGSPORT — Sullivan South High School graduate Aidan Henopp is headed for a career in the stars thanks to a college scholarship and stipend package worth more than $340,000.

Following his graduation on May 23, the next step along the way is to study physics and astrophysics through a full, four-year $79,500 undergraduate scholarship at MIT (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) starting this fall. That includes room and board, plus he gets an annual $6,000 stipend that makes the total package worth $342,000.

HOW DID HE GET TO MIT?

It’s all thanks to a program called QuestBridge, which took into account his family’s economic status and Henopp’s academic and testing performance.

His third and highest ACT composite score was a 35 this year, with 35’s in math, science, reading and English, compared to composites of 34 his junior year (which is the score on his MIT application) and a 33 his sophomore year. In one of the earlier ACT tests, Henopp scored a perfect 36 in science. He earned a perfect 4.0 grade point average at South and was one of 11 Distinguished Graduates.

He is seeking a degree in physics with a minor in astrophysics.

Henopp received full scholarship offers from both MIT and Caltech (the California Institute of Technology), his top two choices for college.

He said the plan is for his mother, Katrina Henopp, to drive him and his sister to MIT in Cambridge, Mass., in August. Henopp said he will use a bicycle to travel on and around campus. He plans to apply for summer research opportunities but otherwise said he would return home in the summers.

WHAT ARE THE DOLLARS AND CENTS DETAILS?

Henopp was granted a “four-year full ride to both schools to include housing meals and living expenses,” Katrina Henopp said. “He has received $79,500 per year in scholarships and grants with a $6,000 living stipend per year from MIT. He received an offer of $77,000 per year from Caltech.” MIT and Caltech flew Henopp to Cambridge and Pasadena, respectively, for campus visits before he made his final decision.

His sister, rising Colonial Heights Middle School eighth-grader Sienna Bright, wants to go into engineering and is interested in the QuestBridge program, too.

“It’s an amazing program for people who qualify for the opportunity,” Henopp, who turned 18 on May 11, said of QuestBridge.

Henopp said he found the QuestBridge program while looking at colleges for their physics programs online, specifically at a link on the MIT website. He said the program is open to students in any major, as long as they qualify academically and financially. According to his mother, a family of four with an annual income of $64,000 is eligible.

WHAT’S HIS BACKGROUND?

Aidan has been in Sullivan County Schools since second grade, having gone to schools in Hawkins and Carter counties before that. He, his mother and sister live in Mount Carmel, and his mother is a graduate of Volunteer High School.

He attended a Summer Science Program in Astrophysics, a QuestBridge program affiliated with MIT and found out about Questbridge through the university.

At South, he was a member of the Key Club, National Honor Society, Beta Club and Chess Club, and he’s also a member of Mount Carmel United Methodist Church.