The Stephen Joel Trachtenberg Scholarship, now in its 22nd year, provides full four-year scholarships covering tuition, room and board, books, and other fees, amounting to more than $200,000, to area students who have demonstrated academic excellence.
Knapp, joined by admissions office director Karen Felton and mascot Little George, went to different high schools across the District to surprise recipients with their awards.
“I’m flabbergasted, completely surprised and grateful to everybody,” Hope Ajayi of McKinley Technology Senior High School said.
Ajayi was the only student specifically sought out by the University, Antoine Hart, assistant director of undergraduate admissions said. In most cases school counselors nominate students, who are then selected based on their GPAs, extracurricular achievements, demonstrated need and other factors.
“This is one of the most exciting days in our year,” Knapp said. “We’re looking for the kinds of leadership qualities that we think mean they’ll be able to take full advantage of what we have to offer as a University.”
Sarai Reed of Duke Ellington School for the Arts first heard about the scholarship when she was in middle school and asked her counselor to nominate her.
“As a middle schooler she was talking about it,” said Davie Yarborough, Reed’s English teacher, alumna and former Trachtenberg scholarship recipient. “I’m particularly excited about my ninth graders seeing this and being aware of the opportunities made available to them… some are worried about how to pay for college and SJT scholars really challenge that.”
At Benjamin Banneker Academic High School, recipient Adam Middleton remained quiet and reserved when his name was announced, while Chidi Agbaeruneke grinned broadly. Classmates screamed and chanted Agbaeruneke’s name as the two donned Colonial baseball caps. Their teachers said they could violate school rules and keep them on for the day.
“To be awarded so many amazing opportunities simply for doing what I was told to do since age 4… it makes it all worth it, the long nights, almost sleepless nights,” Middleton said.
The nine recipients were chosen from a pool of 19 finalists, narrowed down from 80 nominees. They join 124 D.C. high school students who have been awarded more than $16.5 million in Trachetenberg scholarships.