MEMPHIS, Tenn. — More than $1 million in scholarship funds were awarded to area high school students Saturday, all thanks to a local organization aiming to give them, as well as other students, their ticket to receiving a college degree at one of several historically black colleges and universities.
"My son is very smart, he's a wonderful guy, and he was not going to college," a parent said.
That was not because honor student Demarcus Lester didn't want to go; the high school senior made the decision not to go to a four-year university because of the cost. College is expensive.
"It almost drew me away just to go to a community college," Demarcus said.
Saturday, while attending an HBCU college fair sponsored by the HBCU Awareness and BarKays Foundations, Demarcus received life-changing news: Not only did he get into Rust College, but he got $54,000 for a full ride.
Demarcus is one of hundreds of Mid-South students granted scholarships this week through an ongoing college fair and tour.
Organizer Corey Allen said if you total up all the scholarships, the funds exceed a million dollars.
Saturday it wrapped up with 30 HBCUs from across the country granting students acceptance and money to pay for their higher education.
Jierani Freeman received three full rides to schools within a couple of hours. She said up until now, the process of applying to college has been stressful.
"Crazy! It's really hard to decide where I want to spend my four years," Freeman said.
But now the future college student and her family can breathe a little easier.
"We've put pack and saved some, but education rises every year," parent Nicole Freeman said. "You don't factor room and board, transportation, extracurricular activities — college costs can be huge. "
She said having her daughter's education paid for is "a huge relief and a blessing."
Now, families have huge smiles.
"God is good," Demarcus' mother said. "And when he shows up, he shows out."