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Harvard-bound grad turns down $40K scholarship, asks it be given to community college student

Harvard campus
Posted at 10:36 AM, Jun 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-10 13:30:35-04

Most high school grads would gladly take $40,000 in scholarships to help pay for expenses in college. But Verda Tetteh isn't most high school graduates.

Verda, a recent graduate of Fitchburg High School in Boston, already knew she was headed to Harvard on a full scholarship. But during her graduation ceremony, she found out that she had been given the school's award for general excellence.

The winner of the general excellence award receives $10,000 a year for the next four years for books, computers and living expenses. But after Verda was announced as the winner, she stunned those in attendance and turned it down.

"It is such a great honor, but I also know that I am not the most in need of it," Verda said at the graduation, according to WBZ-TV in Boston.

Instead, Verda asked if her scholarship could be donated to a student or a group of students who plan to attend community college. The Boston Globe reports that after announcing her intentions on stage, the crowd at the graduation ceremony responded with a standing ovation.

Verda Tetteh

"God had given me a chance to give back to my community," Verda told CNN. "He blessed me so much, that this is my chance to be a blessing, and that's exactly what I wanted to do."

Verda said she was inspired to donate her scholarship because of her mother, Rosemary. A Ghanian immigrant, Rosemary Annan earned her bachelor's degree from community college at the age of 47.

"She worked really hard," Verda told CNN. "Two jobs, raising her kids, studying, paying her bills and her tuition. And it was a difficult journey. As a family, we learned a lot and we grew stronger because of it."

Mass Live reported Tuesday that Fitchburg High School Principal Jeremy Roche planned to meet with Verda soon to discuss how to reallocate the scholarship money.