FITCHBURG, MASS. (WHDH) - A Fitchburg high school student is explaining why she made an unexpected announcement during her graduation ceremony last week when she asked that a $40,000 scholarship awarded to her be given to a student attending community college instead.

“I am so very grateful for this. But I also know that I am not the one who needs this the most,” Verda Tetteh, 17, said during the Fitchburg High School graduation ceremony on Friday.

The crowd, made up of her fellow classmates, their families, teachers and school administrators, applauded and cheered Tetteh after she made her announcement.

Tetteh, 17, plans to study biochemistry at Harvard College in the fall. During the impromptu speech, Tetteh told the crowd that she was inspired by her mother, who had attended community college.

“She was a mother of four kids, she was working full-time, 80-plus hours every week and keeping up with her academics, and working to pay her bills at home and her tuition,” she said.

Tetteh said she hopes her message reaches as many people as possible.

“Whatever it is you have, if someone else needs it, you give it. It’s just the right thing to do,” Tetteh said. “I can’t wait to see how this money impacts someone else’s life … Keep in mind that you don’t need to have the whole world to give and be a giver. I know I did give a very generous sum of money, but it goes beyond that. Even if you can just give a smile or buy someone who needs it lunch — no small act of kindness goes unseen.”

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