Verda Tetteh didn't think twice about donating her $40,000 scholarship to community college students.
"Someone else needs it more than me, and there was just no excuse why I wouldn't give it up when that was the right thing to do," Tetteh told NBC Boston.
Tetteh moved to the U.S. from Ghana when she was 8 years old, and this month, she graduated from Fitchburg High School in Massachusetts. She was honored with the school's general excellence award, and during her speech, the Harvard-bound teen thanked donors for the scholarship, but said she knows she's "not the one who needs this the most."
"Knowing my mom went to community college, and how much that was helpful, I would be so very grateful if administration ... would consider giving the general excellence scholarship to someone who's going to community college," Tetteh said. She received a standing ovation from the audience, but said she didn't make this sacrifice for the accolades — it was to honor her mother and students who also choose to attend community college.
Tetteh's mom enrolled in community college at age 39, and Tetteh said she is "in awe of her," adding, "I think that's something that's very difficult to do. But she knew she wanted to improve her life and improve the lives of her children." Tetteh will use smaller scholarships and financial aid to cover her Harvard tuition.