ST PAUL, Minn. — As the school year begins to wrap up, hundreds of Minnesota students will head into summer with the support and financial aid needed to further their educations.
On Wednesday, Wallin Education Partners announced its largest-ever class of Wallin Scholars, comprised of 361 students from more than 70 high schools across the state.
Each scholar will receive up to $16,000 over four years for college, along with advising and coaching. In total, $8 million was awarded to the 2023 class of Wallin Scholars.
“Each student motivates and inspires us. Our scholars are creating a more equitable Minnesota, one that we desire and that they deserve,” Susan Basil King, EdD, President & CEO of Wallin Education Partners said in a statement.
Thirty of those nearly 400 students were surprised with their scholarships in-person by the Wallin team, which has awarded more than $65 million in scholarships in the past 30 years.
In a video released Wednesday, students from Blaine High School, Johnson High School, Owatonna High School and Richfield High School were told they were participating in a school video for seniors. Instead, they were surprised with their Wallin Scholarships.
Through screams and tears and laughter, students expressed shock, surprise and excitement as they opened green envelopes with the news.
"It just makes me feel like I'm not alone, and it'll really help," said Miani Risser, who plans to attend Winona State University.
"He gave me an envelope and it said, 'You're a Wallin Scholar and you've earned $16,000,' and I'm like, 'Yes!' Yes, it was very exciting and very heartwarming for me because, you know, I don't come from a lot of money," added Johnson High School senior Islaea Anderson.
"My mom is a single parent … My dad is incarcerated … It has been a big thing not having, you know, my dad around," she continued.
Getting into college wasn't much of a hurdle for Anderson, who is cheer captain and senior class president at Johnson.
"I got into Spelman, Hampton, Norfolk, Morgan," she said. "I got into Jackson State."
She's landed on historically black university, Johnson C. Smith University, in Charlotte. In part, because her new Wallin scholarship can be used there.
This year, 88% of the 2023 Wallin Scholars are students of color, 74% are first-generation, and 100% have demonstrated financial need.
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