A local high school grad has set the standard for a new Mercer University scholarship which helps students with special financial needs pay for their education.
For 18 year old Wahaj Khan, a college education at Mercer University in Macon has always been just right down the street. Khan attended Central High School and is the first student to receive a new scholarship endowed by local businessman Benjamin W. Griffith the third.
"I didn't expect to get it," Khan said of the scholarship. "A couple nights before I had a dream that I didn't get it, so when I got the call I was like Oh my God!"
Griffith pledged 2.5 million dollars to Mercer, a total that the University is matching to help gifted students from Bibb County high schools fund their college education.Wahaj was just one of those students,
"We were very impressed by not only his academic strength--being part of the IB program at Central as well as taking AP classes at the same time was great--so just him being a well rounded student really got him the scholarship," said Mercer Admissions Counselor Diana Harrington.
Wahaj says his dreams of going to a university like Mercer started when he was only 5 years old, when his parent's left Pakistan to pursue a better life for their family
"The sole reason my parents came here was for our education," he said "So I don't want them to feel that they came here in vain. They left their family, their mothers--their fathers back home and brought us here for our education. I don't want them to feel as though we let them down. I want to show them that I'm trying to make them proud."
Wahaj says if he could give students around Bibb county one piece of advice it would be to challenge themselves. For him, it paid off.
"if you're out doing clubs you get to meet more people you get more of a social life, you get to show your character more you get to build character, and you get to help others doing it," Wahaj said.
As college fast approaches for Wahaj, he hopes he can instill a love of learning in his little brothers, and maybe inspire other kids in the area to be more excited about their education.