LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Jefferson County Public School officials surprised seven high school seniors on Friday.
It was a special surprise for those who have overcome obstacles to get to graduation day.
Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio surprised the students with scholarships to college.
One of the recipients, Gia "Huy" Tran from Iroquois High School, came to the United States from Vietnam in eighth grade, learned English, and is now valedictorian.
He is passionate about the environment and plans to attend the University of Louisville to pursue a career in solar engineering.
"I want to do that because I want to work in production of electricity but in solar specifically because its good for the environment," Tran said.
According to a press release, all of the scholarship finalists had to give presentations about their financial needs and plans for the future before being interviewed by JCPS administrators.
They received a total of $70,000 from the district, and all of it was donated from JCPS employees and community members.
“This is one of my favorite days of the year,” Pollio said. “We get to help some deserving students, whose families may not have the means to afford college, realize their dream. These talented JCPS students are going to further their education and make a difference in the world. We couldn’t be prouder of them.”
According to the release, the other recipients are:
- Naira Abedi and Ulises Vega Rabell from Doss High School
- Jonah Belance from Southern High School
- Raven Brackens from Marion C. Moore
- Saif Al Khafaji from Waggener High School
- Tamiya King from Male
Abedi plans to go to Bellarmine to study medicine after seeing her village doctor in Uganda care for her when she was little.
Rabell wants to go to UofL to study business administration. He immigrated to the States from Cuba four years ago.
Belance wants to study biomedical science at UofL; he struggled with ADHD as a young child but is now an honor student and president of both the Black Student Union and his senior class.
Brackens started a small business in elementary school and that's what led her to discover her love of baking. She wants to make a career out of it and plans to attend the University of Kentucky and study food science.
Al Khafaji is an Iraqi refugee who immigrated to the United States last year, and has always dreamed of piloting an airplane. He wants to make that dream come true and study aviation at Eastern Kentucky University.
King will graduate high school with 18 credit hours already, and plans to study at Western Kentucky University to get her bachelor's degree before attending the Brandeis School of Law.