Thanks to rapper Travis Scott, 100 students at historically Black colleges and universities received unexpected graduation gifts of $10,000 each.
The scholarships, $1 million in total, were given to graduating seniors at 38 HBCUs through Scott’s Cactus Jack Foundation and the Waymon Webster Scholarship Fund. The program is named after the rapper’s grandfather and it’s Scott’s second time offering the scholarship, according to his website.
Last year’s students hailed from schools such as Howard University, Morehouse College, Texas Southern University, Grambling State University and Prairie View A&M University, where Scott’s grandfather went and served as dean, his website said.
“My grandfather wanted me to take it all the way through college,” Scott said on his website. “I feel there is a power in education so to be able to give someone the opportunity to fulfill that dream as my papa thought for me is amazing.”
Recipients had average grade-point averages of 3.5 or higher and faced financial challenges during their final spring 2022 semester. The scholarship is supposed to help them with final fees so they can graduate.
Nisha Encarnacion, a Florida A&M University student and 2022 scholarship recipient, submitted a video for Scott’s website. She spent eight years trying to get her pharmacy degree. She also has a daughter and a mother who depend solely on her.
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Another recipient, Jordan Massey, graduated from North Carolina Central University and studied mass communication. Massey racked up a lot of expenses traveling back and forth to his home in Maryland, and for textbooks and other equipment.
“This scholarship money will help me to repay some of those debts and just really help alleviate some of that stress off of my family during such a stressful time,” he said in his video. “It’s been a very taxing four years.”
The money, Massey said, helped him and other students prepare to leave school and start work. He’s now an intern at The Times-News in Burlington, North Carolina, which is part of the Gannett and USA TODAY network.
Scott, whose Astroworld music festival on Nov. 5, led to the deaths of 10 people, has launched a slew of community initiatives over the past year. Some projects in Houston include a center for middle and high school students pursuing design and education, a community garden and a program that offers mental health resources.
Just a few days before the festival, on Nov. 3, he opened the a 60,000-square-foot design center in Houston, Texas, for middle and high school students pursuing design and engineering. The facility offers 3D printing, woodworking and other programs.
He also launched Cactus Jack Gardens, a Houston-based community garden program helps students learn “agricultural economics and nutritional skills to combat food insecurity,” his website said.
The garden also has a reading pergola called Miss Sealie’s Corner, named after Scott’s grandmother.
And lastly, there’s Scott’s Project HEAL program, which provides scholarships free mental health resources such as a dedicated crisis-care hotline.
“Over the past few months I’ve been taking the time and space to grieve, reflect and do my part to heal my community,” Scott said in a March 8 Instagram post. “Most importantly, I want to use my resources and platform moving forward towards actionable change. This will be a lifelong journey for me and my family.”
Saleen Martin is a reporter on USA TODAY’s NOW team. She is from Norfolk, Virginia and loves all things horror, witches, Christmas and food.
Saleen Martin, [email protected], Twitter: @Saleen_Martin
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Travis Scott just gave HBCU graduates $1M in scholarships