NORFOLK, VA - Maury High School in Norfolk has to a lot celebrate in 2018.
Three of their seniors have earned nearly $1 million in scholarship money, and one of their juniors got a perfect score on the ACT.
"It`s kind of overwhelming," said Aswan Benjamin, who earned a full ride to Columbia University worth nearly $300,000. He will be studying computer science and cyber security in the fall. He has already started a non-profit that teaches computer technology to kids in Norfolk.
"I just screamed because I was so excited," said Isaiah Mason, who earned the Quest Bridge Scholarship for $300,000. He is heading to Duke University to become a doctor.
"It was like a huge relief," said Mason. "When I was growing up, my family always said if I kept my head in a book, then I would end up going to school on a full ride. So it was that moment of realization that I had actually accomplished it, that it just made everything had fallen into place."
Owen Lindey earned a $180,000 national scholarship from the Army. Even after a month of essays and physical challenges to apply, winning did not quite sink in at first.
"My mom was like 'You got it!'," he recalled. "My reaction was pretty deadpan. I was like 'Oh. Okay.' So it took about a week later for me to finally realize I`m not going to have to pay for college now."
"I`m hoping I`ll be able to follow these guys' lead and get a full ride somewhere," said junior Oliver Siegfried. His perfect ACT score will likely make that hope a reality next year.
"I`ve always been trying to get a perfect score on one of the standardized tests," said Siegfried, who earned the 26 on the ACT during his first attempt. "I`m always pretty confident in math, and the rest I was hopeful."
All of the young men have well over a 4.0 GPA, in addition to being deeply involved in extracurricular activities like tennis and orchestra. They also all agree on some sage advice for anyone with their sights set on a big goal.
"I think it`s important to follow your passions no matter what other people think or what obstacles have been stacked against you," Benjamin said.