WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Nine D.C. high school students received the surprise of their lives on Wednesday.
The nine students from eight D.C. schools were selected to receive full-ride scholarships to George Washington University.
The GW "Prize Patrol" comprised of George Washington President Dr. Steven Knapp, the University's Dean of Admissions and the school mascot traveled to schools throughout the District to deliver the good news in person.
Mario Velasquez from Benjamin Banneker Academic High School was among the students to surprised the Prize Patrol.
"For me to get the scholarship it just reassures me that I have potential... I can be successful," Mario Velasquez said.
Doris Valasquez, Mario's mother, told WUSA9 that as a single parent she would not have been able to afford tuition without the scholarship. "The message is that if we try our best, we can get there," Doris Valasquez said.
The tuition funds are provided by the Stephen Joel Trachtenberg Scholarship program.
The scholarship is among the most prestigious and competitive at George Washington University. Since it's inception in 1989 the program has awarded 155 scholarships to D.C. students. The program's graduation rate is about 90 percent.
The selected students were presented the scholarships at school, and Knapp thinks having them experience the surprise in front of their classmates helps motivate others.
"It's inspiring for all their other classmates because they see this kind of possibility is in their future if they also put in the work and get the recognition that they deserve," Knapp said.
The list of this year's recipients provided by George Washington University is below:
· Mario Velasquez, of Benjamin Banneker Academic High School (Ward 1) dreams of earning a civil engineering degree and using it to improve living conditions in El Salvador, his home country.
· Lashae Hunter, of Cesar Chavez Public Charter School for Public Policy, Parkside High School, (Ward 7) worked at Do the Write Thing Foundation in D.C. for two summers where she and other students produced positive messages for peers through video, songs and poems.
· Matthew Jenkins, of KIPP DC College Preparatory (Ward 5) has memorized every United States president, along with their successes and failures.
· Bruce Beuzard IV, of KIPP DC College Preparatory (Ward 5) loves the look on people's faces when he tells them not only is he an athlete, but he is a member of the robotics team at his school.
· Byron Fullerton, of McKinley Technology High School (Ward 1) will be the first SJT scholar to attend the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design.
· Carlos Palencia, of the School Without Walls Senior High School (Ward 2) has held internships at organizations like Fannie Mae and HomeFree-USA, all before attending college.
· Elissa Hipolito-Magsalin, of St. John's College High School (Ward 4) has worked throughout middle and high school. One of her biggest sources of motivation is setting an example of excellence for her six younger siblings.
· Faith Hudson, of Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter School (Ward 8) is captain of a community step team and her high school's cheer leading team. She has already taken classes at GW, including Introduction to British Literature and Introduction to American Politics.
· Coumba Gueye, of Washington Latin Public Charter School (Ward 4) went to Doha, the capital city of Qatar, to participate in Qatar Debate as part of her school's partnership with Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development.