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College Board surprises Denmark High School student with a ‘life-changing’ $40,000 scholarship
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Denmark Principal Kim Oliver holds up a sign announcing Jose Martinez as the winner of a $40,000 scholarship, surprising him during an school assembly. - photo by Sabrina Kerns

College Board leaders visited Denmark High School last week for an impromptu assembly they said was put together to talk to students about their plans for the future.

But school admins knew the real reason for their visit — to surprise senior Jose Martinez with a “life-changing” scholarship.

Kevin Maloney, College Board director, began by telling Denmark’s juniors and seniors gathered in the gym about the organization’s BigFuture program, an online resource that allows high school students to look at colleges and universities that best fit them along with scholarships for which they are eligible.

Over the years, Maloney said College Board has “committed millions of dollars to support and incentivize” students’ use of the program. Students have the chance to win a separate scholarship of up to $40,000.

“And if I’m right, there is a student here who has spent a bit of time on there searching,” Maloney said, pointing out Martinez in the crowd of students and inviting him to the center of the gym.

“Because you did those steps, you sir, have won a $40,000 scholarship!”

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College Board Director Kevin Maloney, left, tells students about Denmark senior Jose Martinez and his time spent looking at scholarships and colleges online. - photo by Sabrina Kerns

Denmark Principal Kim Oliver revealed a banner announcing the scholarship and the crowd of students burst into a roaring cheer for Martinez as he stood with a look of shock on his face.

The Denmark senior’s mom and little brother came out from behind the bleachers, and he ran across the gym floor to hug them both.

“I am really thankful for this,” Martinez told the Forsyth County News. “I really never thought I would ever get $40,000 [in scholarship funds]. I never could have expected this much.”

Martinez said he hopes to use the scholarship to attend Georgia State University and study international relations or business. Eventually, he said he also hopes to earn a master's degree to further his future career opportunities.

Before ending the assembly, Maloney reminded the crowd of students that they, too, could earn a scholarship through College Board simply by searching for colleges and universities through its BigFuture program, found online at www.bigfuture.collegeboard.org.

The organization awards $500 scholarships and two $40,000 scholarships each month to sophomore, junior and senior students who sign in and take part.

“While [Martinez] was exploring scholarships and opportunities to help him pay for higher education, he went and won a $40,000 scholarship,” Maloney said. “So what I’m saying is you all have the opportunity to do that.”
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Senior Jose Martinez hugs his mom after she and his little brother jumped out from behind the gym bleachers to surprise him after the annoucement. - photo by Sabrina Kerns
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Jose Martinez poses with his family along with Denmark Principal Kim Oliver, far left, and Forsyth County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeff Bearden, far right. - photo by Sabrina Kerns