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A Fitchburg high school graduate turned down a $40,000 scholarship and asked the school to award it to another student, the Boston Globe reports.

Verda Tetteh is a senior at Fitchburg high school in Massachusetts. During her time in school, Tetteh has excelled academically, already having been accepted to the prestigious Harvard University. She has received a lot of support as she prepares for her collegiate journey. Recently, she was awarded the Christian A. Herter Memorial Scholarship by Senator Dean A. Tran, covering up to half of the students’ financial needs at any college in the nation of their choice. Tetteh will also receive financial aid through Harvard, which covers up to 100% of any demonstrated need.

On June 4th, during her graduation commencement ceremony, Tetteh was awarded Fitchburg High’s General Excellence award. It is a $40,000 scholarship considered as one of the most prestigious any senior at the school can get. The award is accompanied by the George K. Progin Scholarship, worth $10,000, which is renewable for four years. Initially, Tetteh accepted the scholarships and retook her seat after her class speaker address.

But after hearing the assistant principal’s speech, touching on the importance of being selfless and doing the right thing, Tetteh returned to the podium with an important message.

“I am so very grateful for this, but I also know that I am not the one who needs this the most,” Tetteh said when she took the stage.

“Knowing my mom went to community college and how much that was helpful, I would be so very grateful if the administration would consider giving the scholarship to someone who is going to community college,” Tetteh added upon her return.

Her change of heart was met by a standing ovation from the class. Tetteh admitted that she felt an immediate sense of relief once she said it. The Ghanaian-American teen said she was inspired to speak up because of her Christian faith and her mother. She brought Tetteh from Ghana to America as a child and obtained her bachelor’s degree at 47 by attending community college.

Tetteh felt that she had already received so much and wanted other students who needed it more than her to pursue their education without having to worry about money. The teen will meet with Fitchburg principal, Jeremy Roche, discuss re-awarding the scholarship and possibly splitting it between multiple students.

She plans to attend Harvard this fall, studying chemistry on a pre-med track.

Photo Courtesy of Boston Globe


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