GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - What started as an ordinary day of school for some South Mississippi students ended with a big celebration. On Wednesday, the "Get2College Scholarship Squad" showed up at two schools to surprise several students with $1,000 checks.
Students in one class at Gulfport High School thought they were just learning about the "Get2College Center" in Ocean Springs and how it provides free services to help them prepare for college.
"We help with ACT prep, filing for FAFSA, looking for scholarships," explained Brandi Lyndall with the Get2College Center.
As she wrapped-up her speech, Lyndall announced, "We also award scholarships."
That's when the "Get2College Scholarship Squad" entered the room, tossing beads and other treats. A squad member jumped on a desk and rapped, "We came with a gift going to Michal Anna!"
A stunned Michal Anna Marble was named one of the winners of the "You Are College Material" essay contest. This year, students were asked to choose one page in their life story to highlight.
Out of 1,200 entries statewide, 50 winners were selected. Eleven of them are from South Mississippi. Each winner will receive a $1,000 check to the college of his or her choice.
"It's the best part about our job, to walk in and be able to give them $1,000 and see their reaction, along with their parents," said Kimberly Trosclair, Gulf Coast Get2College Center Director.
"Wow! That's so cool," said Marble with excitement in her voice.
When asked how the money will help her pursue her college dreams, Marble replied, "Plenty. Definitely need money for college."
The Scholarship Squad then moved to Ocean Springs High School to surprise three more winners. Natasha Chawla, Emily Dalgo, and Kevin Kovacevich now have a little extra money for college.
The Scholarship Squad will visit five more schools from now until April 16.
"They have no idea. It's all kept very secretive, so hopefully, we'll be visiting your school soon," said Trosclair.
Last year, ten winners from South Mississippi received $1,000 scholarships. The next essay competition starts in September, and the deadline is December 1.