A University of Texas student is preparing to graduate college without student loan debt after her high school mistakenly named her valedictorian four years ago.
Destiny Brannon was an 18-year-old graduate of DeSoto High School when she was recognized as valedictorian for the class of 2018 and spoke at the commencement ceremony. Just as she was about to enter the next chapter of her life as a freshman at the University of Texas, Brannon faced a financial setback that prompted her to raise donations to attend. the university.
According to the WFAA, the 18-year-old was relying on Texas state law which states that if a student has earned major honors from a high school accredited by the Texas Education Agency, their tuition of first year at a public college or university would be covered. .
After delivering the valedictory speech, school officials informed Brannon that she had not graduated at the top of her class. Instead, the district miscalculated the class transcripts, dropping her to third place.
The high school calculated the final ranking based on its grades from the 2017 semester rather than the following spring semester.
She said: “It’s embarrassing because I got so much publicity from them about being valedictorian, only to be told it was a mistake.”
Due to the accident, Brannon was no longer eligible to receive state financial aid which would have paid his first year, $25,134.
Brannon’s mother believed the school tampered with the final standings after the 18-year-old criticized school teachers and called on the district to prioritize athletics over academics.
“This school year has been troubling for me and the DeSoto ISD school system,” she explained during the commencement speech. “We were challenged with mediocre teachers who honestly weren’t there to meet the needs of DeSoto’s students.”
“Unfortunately, DeSoto ISD is plagued with the idea that sports are somehow more important than education,” she continued. “I don’t know exactly how this ideology was born, but I hope for a change.”
District spokeswoman Tiffanie Blackmon-Jones addressed the issue in a written statement, assuring the family that the 18-year-old’s remarks had nothing to do with the error. “The district was aware of Brannon’s point of view prior to his speech.”
Since Brannon’s family couldn’t afford school fees, she recalls having no back-up plan to attend school.
“I was very upset by the situation because I didn’t know how I was going to pay for my studies at the time. I kind of didn’t have a backup plan.
Brannon turned to GoFundMe and created a campaign while sharing her story on social media. She exceeded her goal as generous donors began contributing to the cause. An anonymous donor has pledged an additional $10,000 to help cover tuition.
Brannon said she “made sure to thank everyone who donated” and recalled how “blessed and overwhelmed” she felt.
After learning her story, UT-Austin stepped in by providing the new student with books and housing for the remainder of her undergraduate studies.
Since tuition and fees are cheaper for undergraduates who live in the state, she received a reduced rate of $10,600. However, the university increased the cost by $200 in the 2018 and 2018 academic years. The 2% annual increase prompted the University of Texas to approve an overall tuition hike for its campuses.
As graduation approached, Brannon confirmed that the university was covering room and board, for $10,804. Miscellaneous expenses added by the school were $4,392.
Financial assistance from GoFundMe and the university enabled Brannon to earn his bachelor’s degree in health and society from the school’s College of Liberal Arts.
According to the school’s website, “The central goal of Health and Society is to train students to understand the sociodemographic, cultural, political, and ethical contexts that underlie health behaviors and policies. We expect many of our graduates to go on to positions in non-profit organizations, government, international development, or the health industry. »
Now, the 22-year-old plans to further her education in the medical field by attending nursing school in Dallas.
“They did NOT have to do this,” she explained of the school’s financial aid. “So I’m very grateful that they wanted to help me.”
Watch Brannon’s full interview with WFAA below.