By Rebecca Rakoczy
DECATUR, Ga.— Tucker High School senior Asma Mohamud couldn’t hide the shocked expression on her face.
“What? I got the State Farm® Scholarship?” she asked as her friends, seated around a table, laughed and giggled.
Halima Omar, who had just learned she’d also received the scholarship, was equally stunned.
“We’ve been friends since sixth grade,” Omar said as she and Mohamud embraced. “This is great news. We’ll be going to college together.”
Omar and Mohamud were among more than a dozen high school finalists for the Perimeter College State Farm Scholarship who found out they would receive the award during a surprise event.
Billed as a “dessert with the dean” activity for scholarship finalists, the event quickly turned celebratory as Perimeter College Interim Dean Cynthia Y. Lester made the unexpected announcement that all the finalists in attendance would receive the $4,000-a-year scholarship to attend Georgia State University’s Perimeter College.
“I have the best job every day,” Lester told the crowd. “Seeing students succeed makes it worthwhile. We want to invest in you, and we believe in you.”
The surprise scholarship news excited Marcus Rayner as well. He had just graduated from DeKalb County’s Columbia High School that morning. Already a dual-enrollment student on the Decatur Campus, he looks forward to attending full time.
“Receiving this scholarship means a lot,” Rayner said. “It opens a lot of doors for me and, in turn, I think it could really help me do what I want to do for others.”
Rayner shared his hopes of studying engineering with the goal of building homes for others.
Meanwhile, Eden Mebratu and Rachel Tuyambaze were stuck in traffic, trying to get to the Decatur Campus event.
They missed Lester’s surprise news. Instead, the two Clarkston High School graduates were greeted by Eric Cuevas, Georgia State University’s senior director of Student Success.
“I’m sorry to say you are no longer finalists,” Cuevas told them.
Tuyambaze's face fell.
Then Cuevas smiled.
“You’re no longer finalists because you are now State Farm Scholars,” Cuevas said as the two girls exhaled, hugged and laughed.
Georgia State’s mascot, Pounce, came out to congratulate them.
The event was wonderful to experience, said Allison Calhoun-Brown, Georgia State’s senior vice president for Student Success.
“The joy on the students’ faces and the pride of their families are an expression of the hope that higher education provides,” she said. “With the generous support of State Farm, these students join almost 300 scholars who have been supported financially, academically and with the kinds of professional development opportunities that help transform lives. The excitement of these students reminds us of the value of creating an environment of success at Georgia State and the difference it can make for students, families and communities.”
Photo by Bill Roa