“To every immigrant child, you can make it,” the seventeen-year-old said in her graduation speech. Tetteh discussed the reality that “some of us were born with the odds stacked against us,” and used her speech time to talk about resilience. Later, after she was announced as the winner of the General Excellence award, Tetteh took to the stage again and asked the administration to reallocate it to a student in more need. As reported by The Washington Post, Tetteh’s request was entirely unscripted.
Tetteh’s mother, Rosemary Annan, was present in the audience during her daughter’s speech. “I’m not sad about it that someone’s going to get some good help,” Annan told CNN in an interview. “If I had gotten that help, I would have been thrilled.”
According to local outlet CBS Boston, students gave Tetteh a standing ovation. Fitchburg High School Principal Jeremy Roche will work with Tetteh on how to redistribute the scholarship money. In reference to Tetteh’s decision, Roche said, “What she did, it represents the best of humanity, in a sense.”
“Someone else needs it more than me, and there’s just was no excuse why I wouldn’t give it up when that was the right thing to do,” Tetteh explained about her decision, sharing that she received financial aid and several smaller scholarships to attend Harvard in the fall. She could have used the scholarship funds toward her expenses, as reported by CBS News, but still decided to give it to those in more need.
“It just was the thought that someone sitting here might have a struggle like my mom did when she was going to community college,” Tetteh told the outlet. If most adults only had a sliver of Tetteh’s generosity, empathy, and bravery, the world might be a much different—and better—place.
You can check out a short interview with Tetteh and her family below.