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Ellen gives Ashley Ridge students surprise of a lifetime

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Jaheim President and Darius Smith join Ellen DeGeneres on her show. (Photo/Ellen)Ellen DeGeneres, known for scaring celebrities on her syndicated talk show, gave two Ashley Ridge High School students a different kind of surprise this week.

DeGeneres announced Tuesday on her show that seniors Jaheim President and Darius Smith will receive full-ride scholarships to the College of Charleston.

CofC tuition is $12,418 per year.

President found out on the show that he had been accepted to CofC, causing him to jump out of his seat and dance. Smith found out he had been accepted earlier this year.

In their first trip to Los Angeles (and their first appearance on a talk show), President and Smith said they hope to one day become public educators.

“For the kids, I want to be what I didn’t see when I was growing up,” Smith said.

Smith’s father was incarcerated when he was four years old, and Smith said as he’s grown up, he’s realized the importance of having a male role model.

“Even if it’s at school seven hours a day, that still helps,” Smith said.

President said he’s also been inspired by the teachers he’s had.

“I believe teaching is the greatest way that I can give back to what they have done for me,” President said.

College of Charleston said that both President and Smith participated in the Otto B. German Minority Male Initiative program, which assists prospective high school students of color. The two will also participate in the college’s Call Me Mister program, which supports male minority students who pursue an education degree.

Smith will be the first person in his family to attend college. President will be the first male in his family to attend college without athletics.

“For me, it means beating the odds,” Smith said. “My whole life, it would’ve been easy to take the other route. But it shows me it’s not what you go through in life, it’s how you react to what you go through.”

Cheerios also gave Ashley Ridge High School $10,000, and President and Smith each received checks for $20,000.

“It’ll help with some things,” DeGeneres said. “Some stuff, backpacks and stuff.”

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