A traveling college-readiness tour offered roughly a half-million dollars in scholarship money to North Texas students.
The United Negro College Fund "Empower Me" tour stopped in Fort Worth Friday. The tour partners with the city of Fort Worth and several national sponsors, including Wells Fargo and Target.
Fourteen high school seniors were awarded $2,500 each on the spot by the UNCF, including Austin Person. The Young Men's Leadership Academy student ranks fourth in his graduating class and said he was considering Texas Christian University.
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Person told NBC 5, he wrote an essay as part of the merit scholarship application.
"I talked about how so many Americans have so much debt from so many loans they try to get," Person said. "I said, 'That’s not what I want to do.' Then I said, 'I want to give back to my parents,' because they put so much in me."
Students were also able to speak with college recruiters as part of the tour, with discussions of potential full rides.
Stacey Lee, tour director and UNCF program director, said roughly a half-million dollars in scholarship money was offered Friday in total. That figure combined the UNCF scholarships awarded and the scholarships offered by individual colleges, Lee said.
"Some of these students don't even realize their light. They have no idea how great they are. They have no idea how they can even attend college, and they walk out of here with scholarships. They walk out of here with more confidence," she said.
Students like Darren Tucker said he'd already been accepted into his top pick for college but was still considering all of his options.
"Walking around, I've learned exactly who I am. I've learned what I'm worth," Tucker said. "I was driven to get into college, go to college. I never thought I was worth for colleges to come to me."
The UNCF awards more than $100 million annually in scholarships to more than 7,200 students across the country.
Fort Worth is the third of four stops in their multi-city tour. They plan to stop in Los Angeles next.