KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Every Sunday at 6 a.m., Shaun Brown Jr. and his family head to their family church and make several meals for people experiencing homelessness.
The humble 17-year-old is known to help others in his community and being the oldest sibling, also for helping those in his family.
As the gospel music encompasses the kitchen, and boxes are stacked on the tables, papers are also piling up on a different table: scholarship offers for Shaun.
"I count it as a blessing," Brown Jr. said.
More than 20 colleges offered the Shawnee Mission North senior scholarships.
"For me, it's just, a feeling of gratefulness," Brown Jr. said. "I'm just thankful for my parents for everything they've taught me."
It's a part of Scholarship Shawnee Mission, a program of the Shawnee Mission Education Foundation where it works with college and university partners to extend scholarship offers to the district's seniors before they even apply.
Shaun received $1.3 million in scholarship offers from colleges and universities.
"I thank God, I thank my parents, the hard work that they put in the hard work for giving me the mindset of keep grinding, keep pushing, keep your foot on the gas," Brown Jr. said.
"I was just thanking God that he did it," Shaun's mother, Linyka Brown said. "As I said, you can push your kids, but the kids are the ones to really keep it going."
While this year has seen a roller coaster of unfortunate events, there are some bright spots for the family.
"2020 completely changed once he gave me those papers," Shaun's father, Shaun Brown Sr. said. "He's inspired me. He's only 17. To see that, it's unimaginable."
Shaun Brown Sr. said it wasn't just an inspiration for the family, but for people across the country when he shared the exciting news on social media.
He said it's been exciting trusting the process and seeing his son's growth.
"You have to push through things and trust God that however you raising your kid, that whatever decision you make, to help mold them in what they will become, you have to trust the process," Brown Sr. said. "To see it all come to full fruition, it just feels good that, ok, he was listening."
For Shaun Brown Jr., as he shares his story inside his church, it wasn't the sight of dozens of scholarship offers laying across the table that became an emotional moment for the young man. It was the look from his parents sitting across the room.
"It just means so much for me that I'm able to do this for my dad," Brown Jr. said. "My dad has had it rough his whole life and to be able to support him in any way I can, it means so much."
"You always teach your kids to be a better version of you and that's, and that's the results," Brown Sr. said. "And I'm very proud."
While Shaun Brown Jr. doesn't know which school he'll go to just yet, he knows he wants to double major in aviation and mechanical engineering to become a private pilot.
More than 1,800 seniors within the Shawnee Mission School District received offers through the program this year. The district total for all scholarship offers in 2020 was $1.77 billion. Offers ranged from about $100,000 to more than $2 million.
To learn more about the program, visit their website.