John “Brendan” Hulahan was surprised during class by UMSL representatives to announce that he was selected for The Opportunity Scholars Program. Recipients receive $100,000 which covers tuition, room and board, and book costs for four years.

When sitting in the last row of desks in his Prob and Stats 2 class, John “Brendan” Hulahan was surprised when UMSL representatives walked into the room to make the announcement that he was selected for The Opportunity Scholars Program at the University of Missouri St. Louis.

Representatives from the university along with the Tritons mascot walked in with balloons and a giant check for $100,000 along with high school college counselor Ms. Michelle Luraschi and family members for the presentation.

“I was kind of slumped down in my seat when they came in,” Hulahan said. “I didn’t think that it was for me until they said my name.”

UMSL’s Director of Admissions Drew Griffin presented Hulahan with a giant check written out for $100,000, which will cover costs for tuition, room and board, and books for four years.

Hulahan said he learned about the scholarship program after attending College Academy in the summer, a workshop run by Luraschi that is designed for Pattonville seniors who will be first-generation college students.

“Ms. Luraschi is really good about getting everything out there and she let me know about it and I applied for it in December,” Hulahan said. “I got an email to come to an on-campus interview day and we did that in the last week of February and they said they would get back to me in March so I was just waiting.”

On Monday, at about 10:20 a.m., the waiting was over.

“And here we are, and I can’t get over the fact that I got it. My mind is blown,” Hulahan said. “I met Drew Griffin a few times but I had no idea they were here for me. I was totally surprised.”

His father and grandmother were also on hand for the announcement.

The program focuses on academically gifted first-generation college students and/or students who are underrepresented in the work force from certain academic fields.

This year, there were about 60 applicants, and 17 were invited for an interview on campus.

“Only five are awarded with a full ride scholarship,” Luraschi said. “It’s really, like they said, everything other than the Snickers bar.”

When outside the room, Luraschi told Hulahan, who intends to study finance, that he now has some hard decisions to make.

He replied by saying, “I don’t think it’s hard anymore.”

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