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South Phoenix kids surprised with full ride to college

The scholarships were awarded to students in two 3rd grade classes at Bernard Black School on Monday.

PHOENIX — Bernard Black Elementary School invited 3rd graders and their parents Monday for what they thought was just another assembly.

“I just thought it was another award because he’s a good kid,” said Brandon Gailliard about his son Noah.

"I thought they were going to get a little award or something; like it was a little banquet," said another parent. 

But they were all in for a huge surprise.

Sixty-three students at the school were awarded college scholarships courtesy of a local foundation. 

Roosevelt School District Superintendent Quintin Boyce surprised parents with the news about the Rosztoczy Foundation commitment on Monday.

EN ESPAÑOL: Niños del sur de Phoenix fueron sorprendidos al saber que tendrán becas completas para la universidad

“For every Bernard Black third grader, that is right here with us, they are offering a full-ride college scholarship,” Boyce told the crowd of parents gathered who believed they were attending an assembly.

The foundation will pay for college tuition, books, and room and board through their program called "College Promise."

“The goal, through the generous officer of this family, is that finances will not be the barrier that college is an option for every third grader right here,” the superintendent said.

"I just couldn’t hold back [the tears] because for sure my son is going to college. We didn’t get to go because we couldn’t afford it," said Gailliard. 

The big surprise made Tanisa Miller cry tears of joy.

“I’m a single parent and college is far away, but it’s not easy,” the single mother of two said. “Just thinking that someone has the kindness of their heart to want to send someone like my child to school is a little overwhelming.”

This would be the second time the Rosztoczy Foundation guaranteed a college future for students in the Valley. About 80 third graders in Avondale’s Michael Anderson School got the same promise in 2012.

“It’s a great help because that already guarantees him that he can have a better future,” Jorge Luna said. “We tell our kids all the time that we didn’t have the same opportunities that they have nowadays and with this today, it’s just amazing.”

The program does have certain requirements the students must meet, like graduating from Bernard Black School as well as from a Phoenix Union High school. The students must demonstrate financial need and attend an Arizona state university.

“We told him it could be free possibly if you just do great in school, but they just told him, ‘Yo, it’s free, you’re gonna go for sure if you do this, this and that,” Miller said. “We’re just super happy and to me, I feel like he deserves it more than anything.”

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