Graduation ceremony inspires Harvard-bound student to give her surprise $40K scholarship away

High school senior Verda Tetteh could have added a surprise $40,000 scholarship from Fitchburg High School to her collection of scholarships and financial aid to pay for her Harvard education. But instead, she asked the school to give the scholarship money to someone who needed it more.

Tetteh, who immigrated to the U.S. with her family from Ghana, delivered a powerful address on resilience at the beginning of the Massachusetts school's June 4 graduation ceremony. When she spoke, she didn't yet know she had been chosen as one of two students who would be awarded the school's General Excellence Award.

"And I say resilient because if we are being honest with ourselves, some of us were born with the odds stacked against us that we may not make it to today," Tetteh said in her speech. "And I say resilient because all of us, teachers, faculty, and students alike were given a great challenge when the pandemic hit. But we were and we are resilient, and we did it."

After she took her seat, the school's assistant principal announced the two winners of the $40,000 scholarship – and Tetteh was one of them. It was a shock to her.

Verda Tetteh at her graduation.
"I mean I applied for it a month ago but also a ton of other amazing students applied so I didn't know I was going to get it," Tetteh told USA TODAY.

After she received the award, she listened to the assistant principal talk about being "selfless" and "bold." That's when she made the decision.

"I am so very grateful for this, but I also know that I am not the one who needs this the most," Tetteh said. She had been awarded other scholarships and financial aid that she plans on using to fund her education.

She knew community college had greatly helped her mother, and she knew how far that money would go in funding an education there. So she said at the ceremony that she wanted the administration to consider giving the scholarship to a community college student.

"When I initially gave it away, I felt relieved actually. I was very happy God had given me the strength to do the right thing and reflecting back on that now, I still stand by my decision," Tetteh said. "I don't think there's been a moment where I regretted my decision."

Tetteh said that her parents, like her, didn't know she was receiving the scholarship until it was announced at her graduation, so it was a very spontaneous decision.

"My principal actually you know, found me later that day and said, 'I'm so very proud of you and that was a very selfless move.' My mom said she cheered and gave me a standing ovation so I think it was very positive feedback and response from across the board," Tetteh said.

Tetteh told USA TODAY she has met with Principal Jeremy Roche to discuss how the scholarship will be reallocated. The plan: The one scholarship will be split into multiple gifts that will be awarded over the next four years. Starting this year, two students from the graduating class who will be going to community college will be awarded $5,000 each.

She encouraged incoming high school students to keep their eyes open in their community.

"You can make a change in every community because you know that the world is always improving, so keep an eye open for what you can do and then be bold and be courageous, and work hard towards that change," Tetteh said.

"She represented the class and the school amazingly well, and I would even dare say, her generation," Roche told the Washington Post.

Researchers Now Have AI Device to Sniff Out Cancer in Blood Samples With 95% Accuracy For Hard to Detect Types

An odor-based test that sniffs out vapors emanating from blood samples was able to distinguish between benign and pancreatic and ovarian cancer cells with up to 95 percent accuracy, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine.

The findings suggest that the Penn-developed tool — which uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to decipher the mixture of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitting off cells in blood plasma samples — could serve as a non-invasive approach to screen for harder-to-detect cancers, such as pancreatic and ovarian.

The results of the study were presented at the annual American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting on June.

Strangers team up to carry injured dog down Mount Washington

She bought the dog harness two years ago, unsure if she’d ever use it.

But Jeannine Robbins, of Thornton, N.H., knew that it was a good idea, that someday she might need one for her golden retriever, Appa.

She never figured, however, that the harness would be a key piece to a six-person civilian rescue this month.

A man and his injured dog, trapped 3 miles up on the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail, on Mount Washington, were stuck. Dry, rough rock had cut the dog’s paws, leaving him immobile. Other rocks were slick and treacherous, the incline was steep, and the dog, a rottweiler named Odin, weighed at least 90 pounds. The distressed pooch needed to be carried down.

Sometimes, it’s nice to have a strong dog harness handy.

“I hadn’t even taken the harness out of the package,” Robbins said this week. “I bought it, God forbid, to have in case we needed one.”

By the time the ordeal was finished, with everyone returning to the parking lot safely, the hiker and his dog had spent 24 hours in a grassy, wooded area. Robbins and her five teammates, all recent strangers to one another, spent about 12 hours on the job.

Robbins was first on the scene. Christina Cozzens of Jackson was No. 3. They said the man’s name was Winston, from western Massachusetts.

He was young and slender and did not appear to have overnight gear, or extra food and water, they said. Odin, however, was big and mad, and his paws were badly cut and bleeding.

Both these women are experienced hikers. Cozzens has hiked all 48 of the state’s 4,000-foot mountains. She hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

Robbins hikes, skis, snowshoes and mountain bikes. She’s also a group leader for the Appalachian Mountain Club.

They know tough hikes, and both said this one was tough, featuring wet, jagged rocks and slabs — especially above treeline — and a nasty incline.

“Not an easy trail,” Robbins said.

They wondered why someone ill-prepared would bring a dog and attempt to tackle something so difficult and dangerous.

In addition, help was not on the way. Not officially.

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department does not rescue dogs injured during a hike, said Lt. Robert Mancini of Fish and Game.

“We do not have the resources to climb a mountain to rescue a dog,” Mancini said. “We have to direct search and rescue to people.”

Each year, Fish and Game and other agencies warn hikers and campers not to be stupid. But, inevitably, some are.

“It’s important to know your limitations and the limitations of who you are hiking with, person as well as animal,” Mancini said. “If the dog is used to walking around in the backyard, it’s not a good idea to take the dog up a mountain with rugged terrain.

“It’s a nice story that someone came and helped,” he said.

There were six volunteers, united in a common goal. They climbed there to help.

Robbins and Cozzens saw the alert on Facebook from hikers who had passed Winston and Odin. The message said it was urgent. It asked if anyone had a dog harness.

The hike was nearly 3 miles. The two women, at separate places on the trail, gathered information from hikers on their way down. The dog couldn’t move. They’d been given food and water. And a sleeping bag.

“My mind started to think, ‘How are we going to get the dog out,’ ” Cozzens said. “This was super-technical. Very wet rocks. Very slippery.”

They arrived at the spot in late morning. They bandaged Odin’s paws with gauze. Then, a plan. There wasn’t time to hike up to the Cog Railway for its final ride.

Enter the dog harness.

They took it out of its package, finally. They read the instructions. Then they secured the dog in the harness and began to climb down.

Two men shared the burden, passing the harness back and forth after 15-minute shifts, relying on Cozzens to make sure their feet landed on the flattest, driest spots she could find.

“We talked the whole way down,” Cozzens said. “We had nine hours together, and we had to put a lot of trust in each other.”

Soon, hikers were heading toward them, with food and water, around every turn. Then those people would join the caravan down, until two or three dozen were walking with the original six, triumphantly back to civilization.

In the parking lot, they discovered watermelon and cold drinks on a picnic table. They learned that the New Hampshire Animal Rescue Team and Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue, both nonprofits, lent a hand.

“Exhausted, hungry but elated,” was how Robbins described it.

She drove home to Thornton. And to Appa, her golden retriever.

“I looked at my dog,” Robbins said, holding her dog harness. “I told him, ‘Appa, you’re lucky you’ve never had to use one of these.’ ”

This bird becomes first bird in the world to receive permanent Bionic Limb Replacement

We have seen bionic replacements on humans and now it can also possible for large birds. Experts of the Medical University of Vienna have announced that they have done a bionic limb replacement in a female bearded vulture. Researchers are describing it as the first bionic bird in the world.

Large birds like a vulture injured their legs they have to amputate, this leads to difficulty in walking, landing, and catching their food. Small birds do not get this difficulty if they lose one leg. But replacing the large bird’s leg is difficult as a heavy load is put on the prosthetics. But the Medical University of Vienna experts have introduced a bionic limb replacement that can restore the ability of large birds to walk, fly with a perfect landing, and catch their food.

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Miracle workers: Employees at Ohio grocery store save 5-year-old having heart attack

The efforts of a handful of workers at a Giant Eagle store in Boardman are being praised for saving a little girl’s life.

There were hugs and tears all around Friday inside the Giant Eagle on Doral Drive after a child was saved from a life-threatening crisis. Four employees at the store were recognized for their quick action.

Five-year-old Alex Lucas was shopping with her mom, Lori, two weeks ago when the little girl collapsed in the restroom of the store.

“As soon as I saw that she wasn’t breathing, I yelled out for help and before I knew it, there were 20 people in the bathroom helping, giving her compressions,” Lori Lucas said.

Alex was suffering from a rare and undiagnosed heart condition known as CPVT. It’s a condition where the organ suddenly stops.

Immediately, grocery manager Chris Spencer grabbed the store’s automated external defibrillator device and ran back to the restroom to administer a life-saving shock. Today, the Lucas’ returned to say, “Thank you.”

“It literally went from the worst moment to after they used that AED, to one of the best moments of your life whenever you hear her cry,” said Aaron Lucas, Alex’s father.

As a corporate policy, all Giant Eagle managers and pharmacists are trained in CPR and how to use the AED.

“It was scary. I think God put us in the right place at the right time,” Lori Lucas said.

The episode left the workers unable to sleep that night until they knew the little girl was OK.

“We were just so concerned. This is great to see her like this right now. It’s really great,” Spencer said.

“Just when we walked in was something I don’t think I’ll ever forget, so seeing her smile is all we needed,” said Christine Kennedy, Giant Eagle employee.

Alex now wears a permanent defibrillator on her chest. She is thankful for all who helped her at the store and also her cardiologist, Dr. John Clark from Akron Children’s Hospital, who is now taking care of her.

Clark said those employees are, “Miracle workers.”

“I don’t think they appreciate the degree to which they were truly saving her life. If she goes down and someone calls 911, and they wait for EMS to get there, the likelihood of Alex walking out of a hospital is less than 5 percent,” he said.

Clark said he believes more businesses should get AEDs like the ones at Giant Eagle and workers should be trained to operate them.

Pregnant Mom Gets Hailed a Hero After Saving 4 Kids From Drowning

A pregnant mom is being hailed a hero after saving four kids from drowning.

27-year-old Alyssa DeWitt decided to take her kids to First Street Beach Pier at Lake Michigan on Tuesday afternoon.

“I almost didn’t, I sat in the van for about five minutes thinking the wind was really strong, and I didn’t really know if it was a good idea,” said the stay-at-home mom from Manistee, Michigan.

On the beach she noticed a group of girls, all under 15, going into the water and became concerned for their safety.

“I happened to look up and saw one of the girls waving her arms towards me and immediately knew something was wrong,” she said. “I got up, pulled my kids out of the water and ran out onto the pier.”

She called 911 but, she says, “I didn’t know if [they] could hear me and I didn’t have time to wait and find out,” she said.

No-one else was on the beach. She was the only one who could help. Alyssa laid on her stomach, despite being five months pregnant, and began trying to pull the girls over the rocky and slippery pier.

“Every time I’d get one of them halfway up, a big wave would come smashing into us and knock them back down or almost pull me over,” she said.

“My turning point was when one of the little girls looked at me and said, ‘I’m going to die.’ That was it for me and I was like ‘I’m not going to let you die, I’m going to get you out of this water, I promise.’”

She managed to pull all three girls out of the water and over the pier before the group set off back towards the shore to rescue a fourth girl who had managed to get closer to shore but couldn’t stand because her leg was injured.

“I honestly do not know how I did it, it was pure adrenaline at that point,” Alyssa said.

“Right after I got everybody onto the beach, the ambulance and the police cars came flying into the parking lot.”

Alyssa sustained a swollen wrist but she and the baby were both fine when she went to the hospital to get checked out.

She said another hero of the day is her six-year-old daughter, who managed to keep her two-year-old brother safe during the ordeal.

“Between me screaming into the phone that I needed help and me screaming to the kids what I needed them to do to get them out, I was also turning around and screaming to my son not to come because it wasn’t safe,” she said.

“He was very scared and repeatedly tried to run to me on the pier.”

“My daughter would pick him up and take him back to the sand and she was so calm and I’m extremely proud of her, she did a great job.” This super-hero mom did extremely well too.

Teacher Swaps Shoes With Student To Save Him From Missing His Graduation Ceremony

Teacher John Butler took the shoes off his feet and gave them to student Daverius Peters so he could join his graduation ceremony.