"This is huge," says his mother, Berthinia Rutledge-Brown. "He can do anything he puts his mind to."

By Caitlin Keating
April 03, 2018 04:02 PM
Credit: Berthinia Rutledge-Brown

A Texas high school senior found out he not only got into all top 20 colleges in the United States, he also won’t have to pay a dime to attend.

Michael Brown, 17, of Houston, has always dreamed of going to Stanford. After years of hard work, he found out he was admitted early decision with a full scholarship, his mother, Berthinia Rutledge-Brown, tells PEOPLE.

“That’s all he ever wanted,” says Rutledge-Brown. “But after that, other acceptances he didn’t expect started to trickle in.”

And on Ivy Day last Wednesday — when all the Ivy League schools release their admissions decisions — Michael sat down at his computer and started to check the schools he applied to one by one.

“He was amazed,” says Rutledge-Brown, who is a drug counselor and watched as her son received acceptances from schools including Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton and Harvard. “He sat on the couch and checked Harvard last because he really didn’t think he’d get in.”

Brown has until May 1 to make his final decision about which school to attend.

Rutledge-Brown says that her son — who attends Lamar High School — was always attentive and showed an interest in learning as early as kindergarten.

“He excelled immediately,” she says, adding that her son “was very self-motivated. By 6th grade, I was kicked to the curb.”

Brown even sought out tutoring before and after school to make sure he had a firm grasp on the subjects he was learning. He also was active in the debate team at school and many other clubs.

Rutledge-Brown, 51, says that she always believed in her son, whom she calls her “rainbow baby” after she lost her first three children to miscarriages.

“I wanted him so badly and made sure I could give him a good upbringing,” she says. “I was so excited about being a mom.”

Looking back on his successes and the future that awaits her son makes her feel “very proud,” she says.

“He wanted this,” she adds. “He worked really hard for this and it’s a very humbling experience. I could not afford to send my child to these schools.”

Despite his focus on his studies, Brown has managed to have a fulfilling social life and good friends. This past weekend he went to his friend’s beach house in Galveston, Texas, and watched the final game of the NCAA Men’s Division Basketball Championship with his friends.

Rutledge-Brown jokes that her son’s only flaw is his messy room!

“This is huge,” says Rutledge-Brown. “He can do anything he puts his mind to.”