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Group Of Atlanta High Schoolers Get Surprised With Admission Into Harvard Program

The Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project (HDCDP) is on a mission to uplift the voice of young students in urban areas. Hundreds of Metro Atlanta students embark on the program and hope to advance throughout a strict and challenging interview and vetting process. It all culminates to 26 students being accepted into the program.

But, it’s not just any ol’ admissions project — these 26 students were in for a huge surprise. According to Metro Atlanta Black, the students corralled at The Art Institute of Atlanta for what they thought was the final interview process. It turns out, it was so they could all be in one room to find out they’d been accepted into HDCDP!

“As a final challenge, each student entered a room was donned in a Harvard sweatshirt and instructed to pretend that they were a Harvard ambassador. They were then tasked to give an impromptu speech persuading the panel of judges why a student should choose Harvard as their number one college choice,” said Harvard University Assistant Debate Coach and HDCDP founder Brandon Fleming. “Concurrently, parents were being interviewed by board members—a strategic ploy to assemble the families for the big surprise.”

“It was such a powerful moment,” noted HDCDP Board President Dani Ayers. “As proud yet anxious parents positioned themselves to capture the moment on their cameras, the room went completely dark and a video began to play on the screen. The faces of each student appeared, followed by a congratulatory image announcing the 26 students as the Class of 2019. It was electric—with a confetti shower, tears of joy and shrills of excitement and astonishment from the students and their parents.”

Benjamin E. Mays High School 11th grader and new member of the 2019 HDCDP class Trinity Franklin was at a loss for words.

“Words really can’t describe the feeling after I heard that I was accepted into the Diversity Project,” said Franklin. “I accomplished a big milestone in my life for myself and my mother. When I was crying, they were tears of joy because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

The students will experience a 10-month journey toward Harvard Debate Council summer residency at Harvard University.