US teen gives away $40,000 scholarship to deserving student attending community college

Verda Tetteh said she wanted to honour her mother's struggle to balance studying with providing for the family

American high school student Verda Tatteh who is headed to Harvard University on scholarship to study biochemistry with a  pre-med track surprised everyone at her graduation ceremony when she decided to give away her academic excellence award of $40,000 to a ‘more deserving student’ who would attend community college. The 17-year-old Massachusetts resident already has several scholarships to fund her education, said her decision was inspired by her mother who attended community college at the age of 47.

According to Boston25 News, Verda had reservations about applying for the scholarship as she thought it was unethical for her to do as she already had the scholarships to pay for college. However, on her counselor’s persuasion, she applied assuming it would automatically be given to someone who needed it more. It is no surprise that she was shocked to the core when her name was announced for the same. In that moment, she thanked God and chose to be bold and selfless.

Verda Tetteh (left) with her friends at their high school graduation ceremony.

Speaking to the graduating class at Fitchburg High School, Verda said, “"It is such a great honor, but I also know that I am not the most in need of it," said a report in

Verda’s request that the school administrators give the scholarship to a community college student stem from her memories of how her mother struggled to attend classes, while working long hours to provide for the family after they emigrated from Ghana. Her mother Rosemary, though taken aback by her daughter’s decision, was proud of her and said “ I’m not afraid and I’m not sad about it that someone’s going to get some good help. If I had gotten that help, I would’ve been thrilled” . 

Verda says  she feels blessed to be in a position where she could help someone else and says “ Yes, I would do it again.” 

(Written by Vrinda Garg)

Edited by Diya Koshy George


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