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Harvard bound student generously gives up $40,000 scholarship to benefit another student

[June 8, 2021: Josh Shavit]

Verda Tetteh earned a standing ovation as the class speaker at her Massachusetts high school graduation. But what she did next had the crowd in awe.

At the graduation ceremony at Fitchburg High School on Friday, the high school senior, headed to Harvard, asked that her school give the $40,000 General Excellence Award scholarship it had awarded her to someone going to a community college instead.

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

Her announcement was greeted by a standing ovation.

Tetteh, who also delivered a speech at the graduation, said she was inspired by her Christian faith and the example of her mother, who earned a bachelor’s degree from a community college as an adult.


"It just was the thought that someone sitting here might have a struggle like my mom did when she was going to community college," she said.

She also said she was moved by the words of the school’s assistant principal who spoke about being selfless at the graduation ceremony.

Tetteh immigrated from Ghana to the United States as a child, the newspaper reported. She said she felt confident that she would be able to pay for the cost of tuition through other scholarships from the high school and Harvard’s policy to cover 100% of demonstrated financial need for students. Fitchburg High School Principal Jeremy Roche will meet with the senior to discuss reallocating the award to another student or students.

Tetteh plans to study chemistry at Harvard. At this time, it's unclear who will receive the scholarship she gave up.

"You don't have to have the world to be able to give anything, you know, the little you have, just think about others around you and how you can help," she said.


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