This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Catherine Moran.
Three students at Bell Multicultural High School took their AP English exams Thursday morning without knowing that they were each receiving a full-ride scholarship to GW.
Parents, University President Steven Knapp, Dean of Admissions Karen Stroud Felton and the Colonial mascot surprised the students later that day during class to tell them they are receiving Steven Joel Trachtenberg Scholarships for the next school year – full rides to GW.
Carlos Lopez Sanchez had just finished his AP English exam when he saw his parents and suspected that he’d gotten the scholarship.
“I was so happy when I heard,” Sanchez said. “I was about to cry. I will never forget this day.”
M.D. Ahammed, who is from Bangladesh, also won a scholarship and plans on studying computer engineering and continuing to play baseball when he comes to GW.
“I did my best and I didn’t know I’d get the scholarship,” he said. “I’m really excited that I’m going to GW for four years. I have the opportunity to do something to change the world.”
In its 27th year, the Stephen Joel Trachtenberg Scholarship program covers the cost of tuition, housing, books and fees for about 10 incoming freshmen from the District. Throughout the day, GW administrators and staff visited eight local high schools to deliver the good news to the recipients.
The University has committed more than $24 million to the program and that total will increase with the class of 2020, according to a University release. GW added another grant earlier this year for D.C. students to attend the University without paying the full cost of tuition.
Knapp, who described it as his “favorite day every year,” said the best part of the day is letting students know that college is a viable opportunity for them.
“This symbolizes, even though we are only able to accept ten students each year for the full rides, we want to get the message out there that college is an opportunity for all students to pursue,” Knapp said. “I think it’s an inspiration to the students in the school to see their other classmates get the award.”
Felton, the dean of admissions, said she believes the local community should have a leading role at GW.
“As a member of the D.C. community, we feel a sense of responsibility and strong obligation to help students reach their dreams,” Felton said.
Coming to the students’ schools to hand-deliver the good news is important not just for the accepted students, but also for their classmates, Felton said.
“We want them to realize how excited we are to welcome them to the Colonial family,” Felton said. “It also encourages their classmates. It’s the real fact that they can go to college. They are an in their community of success stories. Being in their environment is important to send that message.”