WASHINGTON/ABC7 — It was a life-changing day for several D.C. high school students today. They were ambushed in class by George Washington University leaders and the school's mascot and surprised with full-ride scholarships.
In a whirlwind across Washington, the university’s self-described "prize patrol” surprised ten students across the District with the merit-based Stephen Joel Trachtenberg Scholarship. It is a four-year, full ride scholarship covering tuition, room, board, fees and books.
The day was bittersweet for GWU President Steven Knapp who is stepping down after a decade in the role. In that time, he has handed out nearly 100 of these scholarships.
“One of the most inspiring things about this is to see how enthusiastic the fellow students are to see one of their own singled out for this opportunity,” Knapp said.
Parents, like Reshanna Morrisey, got a heads up a few days ago. Her daughter Emmoni, a senior at McKinley Technology High School, plans to study business management and Mandarin Chinese at the university.
“Oh gosh, it was torture,” Morrisey said. “It was torture knowing I had this great secret I had to keep from her.”
Eastern High School senior Adonte Yearwood moved to D.C. from the U.S. Virgin Islands. He lost his dad last August. The firefighter was shot and killed while on duty in St. Thomas.
“I think [my dad] would be very proud of me,” Yearwood said. “I honestly wish he was here to celebrate with me but I just want to make him proud.”
Without this scholarship, Yearwood might have joined the military.
“I know my mother has my little brother to worry about,” he said. “Now she doesn't have to worry about it. And I’m really grateful that I’ve been able to take a great burden off of her.”
The 17-year old plans to study criminology and become a public servant like his late father.
List of 2017 Stephen Joel Trachtenberg Scholarship recipients:
-Cherisse Hayes of Duke Ellington School of the Arts (Ward 1) is an aspiring
journalist. She is class treasurer, a student contributor at ShareAmerica.gov and has
interned for the D.C. Superior Court of Appeals as a junior deputy clerk.
-Lorrin Davis of Columbia Heights Education Campus (Ward 1) is interested in
studying international affairs to pursue her dream of working as a Foreign Service
officer. She participated in former first lady Michelle Obama’s Let Girls Learn program
and conducted a case study on the Syrian refugee crisis.
-Ana Lopez of Columbia Heights Education Campus (Ward 1) first learned English at
age 13 when she moved to D.C. and joined her mom who had left their home country
when Ana was a baby. She will be the first member of her family to attend college.
-Sydney Austin of National Cathedral School (Ward 3) is captain of her soccer team
and editor of the school newspaper. She aspires to be an archaeologist.
-William Davis of Woodrow Wilson High School (Ward 3) has volunteered with
multiple D.C. programs including City CPR, the Lowell School and the Capital Area Food
Bank. His internship with the Urban Alliance at the World Bank solidified his choice to
major in business and pursue a career in finance.
-Jenesis Duran of Washington Latin Public Charter School (Ward 4) is captain of her
soccer team, school secretary and treasurer and involved in the League of United Latin
American Citizens. She intends to study international relations.
-Michael Degaga of Paul Laurence Dunbar High School (Ward 5) is expected to be
the class valedictorian. He is the mechanical captain of the robotics team, a member of
JROTC and hopes to turn his passion for aviation into a career and intends to major in
-Emmoni Morrisey of McKinley Technology High School (Ward 5) is a graduate of
the Cathedral Scholars program, a DCPS college summer enrichment and college
preparatory program. She is captain of her school’s volleyball team and intends to major
in business administration.
-Adonte Yearwood of Eastern High School (Ward 6) moved to D.C. from the U.S.
Virgin Islands in order to further his education. A member of JROTC and the baseball
team, he intends to major in criminal justice and pursue a career in law enforcement.
-Joel Escobar of Cesar Chavez – Parkside High School Campus (Ward 7) is a first
generation student and is expected to graduate at the top of his class. He is captain of
his school’s soccer team, and an advocate for victims of domestic abuse and plans to
major in computer science.