A Florida elementary school student’s heartbreak has been turned into victory all thanks to the University of Tennessee.
Two weeks ago, the fourth-grader found himself in tears after his classmates bullied him for the homemade UT t-shirt he designed for college colors day at his school, his teacher Laura Snyder revealed on Facebook. The university has since offered the young boy a full scholarship.
For college colors day, the student took a creative approach to the opportunity by wearing an orange T-shirt with a piece of paper taped over it that displayed his very own UT design, Snyder explained.
“I told my students about this day a week before, this particular child came to me and told me that he wanted to wear a University of Tennessee shirt, but he didn’t have one. We discussed that he could wear an orange shirt to show his spirit,” Snyder wrote.
“He told me every day leading up to it that he had an orange shirt that he was going to wear. So when the day finally arrived, he was SO EXCITED to show me his shirt. I was impressed that he took it one step further to make his own label.”
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“After lunch, he came back to my room, put his head on his desk and was crying. Some girls at the lunch table next to his had made fun of his sign that he had attached to his shirt,” Snyder shared.
“He was DEVASTATED. I know kids can be cruel, I am aware that it’s not the fanciest sign, BUT this kid used the resources he had available to him to participate in a spirit day,” she continued.
The child’s story quickly went viral, catching the attention of the university itself.
On Thursday, the school announced that following the student’s high school graduation his ultimate dream would come true — he would be a member of UT’s class of 2032.
“In recognition of the fourth-grader’s Volunteer spirit, the university has extended an offer of honorary admission for him to join the Class of 2032. In addition, he has been awarded a four-year scholarship covering his tuition and fees beginning fall 2028,” UT wrote in a statement on their website.
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Making the story all the more touching, the university has printed over 50,000 shirts that feature the child’s design and have been pre-sold by the campus’ store — VolShop.
The proceeds from the shirts will go to the charity Stomp Out Bullying.
The boy’s family has expressed “gratitude” to the university and said they are “deeply touched by the overwhelming outpouring from people around the world,” the university said.
In addition to admission into the university, the boy was gifted with several UT gifts, including hats, helmets, T-shirts, jerseys and more.
“UT really outdid themselves,” Snyder wrote on Facebook. “My student was so amazed at all the goodies in the box. When I told him that his design was being made into a real shirt and people wanted to wear it, his jaw dropped. He had a big smile on his face, walker taller and I could tell his confidence grew today!”