Graduate's generous offer stuns commencement crowd

A high school student was headed to Harvard with a $40,000 scholarship. She asked her high school to give it to another student. Nikki Battiste has the story.

Video Transcript

NORAH O'DONNELL: Graduation ceremonies are often predictable, but something remarkable happened when a student decided to go off script with a selfless offer. Here's CBS's, Nikki Battiste.

VERDA TETTEH: To the Fitchburg High--

NIKKI BATTISTE: As the class speaker at a Massachusetts High School graduation, Verda Tetteh earned a standing ovation.

VERDA TETTEH: To every immigrant child, you can make it.

NIKKI BATTISTE: But it's what she did next that had the crowd in awe. After winning a 40,000 scholarship.

VERDA TETTEH: Sorry, again for interrupting.

NIKKI BATTISTE: The 17-year-old gave it away.

VERDA TETTEH: I am so very grateful for this, but I also know that I am not the one who needs this the most.

NIKKI BATTISTE: Tetteh is heading to Harvard this fall on a full scholarship, but she could have used the money for expenses. What was it that made you think I want to give $40,000 away?

VERDA TETTEH: It just was a thought that there's someone sitting here who might have a struggle, you know, like my mom did when she was going to community college.

NIKKI BATTISTE: Mom, Rosemary, an immigrant from Ghana, got her community college degree when she was 47. In that moment when Verna says I'm giving this money away, what was your reaction?

- I was just happy, I stood up and I started shouting so loud I was afraid those in front of me will be like why is that loud. But I was so happy with her decision.

VERDA TETTEH: You know you don't have to have the world to be able to give anything, you know, the little you have just think about others around you and how you can help.

NIKKI BATTISTE: Theta plans to study chemistry at Harvard, but it's clear she's already learned what really matters. Nikkie Battiste, CBS News, Fitchburg, Massachusetts.

NORAH O'DONNELL: Looks like Verda is ready to take on the world.