Pop Culture

Ellen DeGeneres gives college scholarships to entire Brooklyn senior class

Maybe Ellen DeGeneres should think about changing her last name to DeGenerous.

The Emmy-winning talk show host surprised the entire senior class of a Brooklyn, New York, charter school with her biggest giveaway to date: a four-year scholarship to any state university in New York.

Michael Rozman/Warner Bros.
The students at Brooklyn's Summit Academy Charter School after learning they will be getting 4-year university scholarships.

The $1.6 million donation, courtesy of Walmart, was awarded to the 41 graduating seniors of Summit Academy Charter School. Students reacted to the gifts with pure elation — and disbelief.

This wasn’t the first time school representatives have visited the show. DeGeneres previously invited the founder and principal to describe the school's mission and the role it plays in the impoverished neighborhood where it is located.

Michael Rozman/Warner Bros.

The two administrators left with a $25,000 check from Walmart and an invitation to bring back some students.

In an episode that aired Thursday, the school's entire senior class came on set, with three of them sitting down with DeGeneres, before her surprise, to describe the impact the school has had on their lives.

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One student noted that while she will be the first member of her family to finish high school, she is determined to continue and graduate from college.

“I’m not going to be a disappointment. I’m going to be somebody," she said.

The classmate sitting next to her described the nurturing atmosphere the school has provided him for the past seven years.

“I consider each and every one of these people my family members. We are a family,” he said, crediting the school for giving him aspirations beyond high school.

“College is the goal that I’ve had my entire life and now it’s going to happen,” he said. “It’s going to happen and I thank Summit for that.”

After speaking with the students, DeGeneres told the audience how important she felt their stories were to share.

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“A lot of us are really fortunate and we take for granted how easy our life is, to go to the school we want to and to do the easiest things,” she said.

“And these kids have overcome all kinds of things and they go to school every single day, and they work hard every single day, and all they want to do is go to college, and they deserve that," she said, before announcing her surprise of tuition-free scholarships.

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