By Charise Wallace, Special to the AFRO

Two students from Washington, D.C., were chosen to receive scholarships through the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) and United Negro College Fund (UNCF), but once they learned that comedian Kevin Hart was also in on the surprise, they were left stunned.

Hart has partnered with KIPP and UNCF through his charity Help From The Hart to award 18 KIPP alumni attending 11 HBCUs with $600,000 worth of scholarship funds.

Both KIPP alums, Kerry Gaino, 18, a recent graduate from Dunbar High School who will attend Bethune Cookman University in the fall, and Lalibela Faraba, 18, who graduated from Duke Ellington School of the Arts and will attend Florida Memorial University this fall, were both awarded $40,000 in scholarships.

The pair was flown out to L.A. to receive the exciting news at a scholarship ceremony held at the Warner Center Marriott Hotel on Aug. 6.

The AFRO spoke with Faraba and Gaino as they reflected on such an eventful yet shocking moment.

“I was just very excited because he is a very well-known comedian that I enjoy to look at,” said Faraba. “It was very unbelievable…it’s like an out of body moment. You always see it from the other side so just being in that moment it’s very unrealistic…I was very thankful. I did not know anything. The UNCF really kept things secretive.”

Lalibela Faraba is one of two Washington, D.C. students who received scholarships from Kevin Hart’s charity.

UNCF is known for giving out millions of dollars in scholarships to deserving students, and Gaino and Faraba were next to be recognized for their academic and personal achievements.

Gaino, who is from Northwest D.C., will be the first male in his family to attend college.

“I was shocked…It’s just a blessing,” he said.

Learn more about KIPP at