It was the surprise of a lifetime for three Friendship Collegiate Academy seniors who received scholarships to further their education at Hanover College in Indiana.

Associate director of admissions and director of the Templeton Scholars Program, Monica Green from Hanover College visited the school, Feb. 28, to make the presentations to Takima Johnson, Cora Smallwood and Tynisha Little.

Green says she thinks each of the students bring something unique to Hanover College. “I think each of them would add something different to the program, if they came,” Green said.

“It’s not just about finding one good kid in one good place; it’s about finding anyone who is willing to come and be involved and do the activity and do the work, and all of the students that we’ve awarded the scholarships to will do that.”

The Benjamin Templeton four-year scholarship, worth approximately $140,000, was awarded to Takima Johnson, 17, one of 16 recipients.

“I was really hoping I’d get it and now that I have, I’m like in tears, I am so excited,” said Johnson. “It feels amazing because I’ve waited too long to figure out if I was going to get it.”

The Templeton scholarship was named after the first African-American student to attend Hanover. Templeton was a free Black man from Chillicothe, Ohio who began his education in 1832 and spent five years at the College. The scholarship program supports diversity, social justice, tolerance and human rights on Hanover’s college campus. Recipients who are selected must be actively involved in their community.

According to Green, the scholarship is awarded to students who aren’t afraid to be more than loud voices. “They have to be cooperative, they have to be a part of the group and they have to be leaders.”

Johnson’s mother, Jeanette Watkins, a contractor at Fort Meade was there to surprise her daughter.

Watkins told the AFRO she was excited and proud of her daughter because she has earned the scholarship through hard work.

“Words can’t express how I am feeling, but I am excited and happy for her,”

Johnson’s mother said through tears.

With a full ride scholarship to Hanover, Johnson said she is ready to pursue her academic dream of a degree in psychology.

Seniors Cora Smallwood and Tynisha Little were among 10 students to receive the Jordan scholarship, a subsidiary of the Templeton scholarship.

Once students are on campus, each is assigned a mentor and required to complete service hours in addition to filling leadership positions in student organizations. Scholarship recipients are also required to maintain at least a B- grade point average.

“I am really excited,” Smallwood said in tears. “I really appreciate this so much because it would have been hard to go, but I got it so now I am really going. I needed this so much and I’m just proud of myself because this is a big achievement for me and I know my mom, my dad and my sister are really proud of me right now.”

Smallwood’s mother, Ingrid Smallwood, said she was overwhelmed with happiness that she received the scholarship. She echoed her daughter’s words that the scholarship helps to guarantee that her daughter would attend Hanover College.

Ingrid Smallwood said she kept the news a secret for a week, which was hard because she knew her daughter was anxious to know whether or not she’d received the scholarship.

Smallwood’s father Craig Horne and older sister Jimmika Smallwood were also there to support and congratulate her.

Although Little, 17, was hesitant to comment about receiving the scholarship, she did say she feels overwhelmed and grateful to have been awarded the scholarship.

Her mother on the contrary couldn’t contain her excitement. Michelle Little said she was told that her daughter had won the scholarship while on her way to a doctor’s appointment. She immediately called to reschedule her appointment and came to the school to surprise her daughter.

“It’s going to be different when she leaves for college, I am so used to hearing her voice,” said her mother before her voice cracked with emotions. “But I am also proud and happy for her.”

Little’s mother said her daughter is planning to become a gynecologist