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White Student Wins Scholarship for Black Students; Gives It Back

A white student gives back the scholarship he won that was intended for an African American student.

Kathryn Knight Randolph

June 15, 2012

White Student Wins Scholarship for Black Students; Gives It Back
When Jeffrey Warren, a graduating senior in Riverside, California, was applying for scholarships, his father told him to apply for every scholarship to which he was eligible, according to ABC News. Through his scholarship search, Warren concluded that meant he could apply for a scholarship sponsored by the Riverside Martin Luther King Senior Citizens Club. The application merely "encourage[d] African-American students to apply" but said nothing about being exclusively for African American students. That’s why he, his school and the scholarship committee were shocked when Warren was awarded the scholarship at a ceremony and got up to accept the award, reports ABC News. In an interview with ABC News, Warren’s father states, “The laughter was slight at the beginning, then it got louder," Rod Warren said. "You could tell the [award presenters] were surprised, but they shook his hand and gave it to him.”

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According to ABC News, Warren and his parents talked over the situation that evening, and Warren decided it was best for him to give the scholarship back the next morning. It’s also reported the scholarship committee was surprised by his generosity, given that the application didn’t exclude anyone from a different race from applying. But Etta Brown, the chairwoman of the MLK Senior Citizens Club's scholarships committee, did tell ABC News that the application will, from now on, be worded differently. Check out our Sweeps & Promos -- another way to pay for school.

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Since Warren has given up the scholarship, it has been awarded to an African American student who will be attending Cornell University, states ABC News. It seems, though, that everyone has learned a lesson from this misunderstanding – Warren, the MLK Senior Citizen Club’s scholarship committee and Warren’s teachers, who tell ABC News that the circumstance has made them appreciate the type of student Warren is even more. Warren’s math teacher, Susan Jaggers, was interviewed by ABC News, and she told them that the teachers at Warren’s high school have decided to all pitch in and raise the money that Warren forfeited up to a more deserving student. She says, “We didn't totally replace the money, but I knew many of [Warren's former teachers] would be willing to throw a few bones. All his teachers love him."

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What would you do if you found out you "technically" didn't apply for a scholarship but won? Would you give the money back?

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