Three seniors from Austin-East Magnet High School saw their academic efforts pay off in a big way this week, thanks to a scholarship program from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.
During a surprise celebration at the school on Wednesday, UT’s Redrick Taylor III made admissions offers to Zakoyous Houston, Anndrena Downs and Mariusi Irankunda.
The offers are part of the university’s Flagship Scholarship, which is available for students at A-E, Fulton and Central high schools. When combined with the HOPE Scholarship, the Flagship program covers a student’s tuition and mandatory fees for up to eight semesters.
The offers were made during a ceremony in the school’s performing arts auditorium, with friends and family members looking on.
Lashaundra Lenoir said Houston, her stepson, has been checking the mailbox for weeks hoping to find an acceptance letter, because UT is his top choice.
“He’s the oldest of four brothers in my household and he’s a leader,” she added. “He’s leading by example so it’s very exciting for his younger brothers to see him getting accepted to his top pick.”
For Downs, who has maintained a 4.0 GPA during her time at A-E, the acceptance into one of her top college choices is a first step toward pursuing a dream of majoring in biology, while honing the leadership skills she began to develop in high school.
Asked what it means to be a Roadrunner, Downs said it’s a family — “having people in your reach at all times who will do whatever for you when it comes down to it.”