New Castle, DE (Vocus) May 6, 2009
Elijah Williams, a senior at Christiana High School in Newark is over the moon. And he should be, in a 24-hour period his life has changed forever. After appearing on the Oprah Winfrey Show yesterday, Williams and his three friends from high school were surprised when Will.i.am from the Black Eyed Peas presented them with full ride scholarships to college. In the fall Elijah Williams will be starting his first day of college as a Wilmington University Wildcat.
"I wanted to meet you guys, because I want to invest in America's future," said entertainer Will.i.am as he shook hands with all four of the high school seniors, "And I want to send you guys to college." The crowd erupted into applause and jumped to their feet as the four friends sat in complete shock. "All you have to worry about it succeeding, and showing the world that the youth is the future of America and the world," continued Will.i.am. The scholarship was a complete surprise to the friends, as they were expecting to be on the show to talk about education and the current economy.
Elijah Williams, Jaiquann Beckham, and twins Darien and Barien White will be the first recipients of Will.i.am's I Am Scholarship, which covers tuition, books and fees for all four years. "Elijah is going to be a Wilmington University Wildcat," boomed Oprah as he was presented with Wilmington University apparel and memorabilia. Oprah continued by thanking Will.i.am for his generosity saying, "You continue to be an inspiration."
The dream began with a letter to Oprah from Jaiquann Beckham. In the letter Beckham described how himself, and his three friends in the Christiana High School track team had found themselves at a loss when they tried to apply to college. "We had been accepted into prestigious, accredited institutions," said Beckham, "The problem is, we cannot afford to go." But that all changed when the teens found out their new destiny on a television show as their friends and family cheered for them at home. "I never planned on going to college," said Elijah Williams, who knew his single mother could never afford sending him to college, "And now I'm just excited about it. I can't wait."
Wilmington University President, Dr. Jack Varsalona congratulated Williams saying, "We look forward to meeting Elijah and welcoming him into the Wilmington University family. At Wilmington University we have always stressed the belief that higher education should be available to all who seek it, and this great opportunity for a young, aspiring student only strengthens those beliefs."
University Relations Associate
31 Read's Way
New Castle, DE 19720
T: (302) 295-1164
Cell: (302) 563-6282
FAX (302) 295-1137
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