FORT WORTH –– A mistake by one of the most generous scholarship programs in the country played a cruel trick on the emotions of a Fort Worth student, his family and his nominating teacher.
For Southwest High senior Torrean Johnson, the news didn't sound too good to be true, because he had good reason to believe it was. His physics teacher received an email from the Gates Millennium Scholar Program informing her that Johnson had earned one of the coveted scholarships.
Kristin Cotton had nominated him. Each year, the program awards life-changing scholarships to 1,000 high achieving, low income minorities: a full ride to the college of their choice.
" I was so excited, I just called him right away," said teacher Kristin Cotton.
She says she nearly cried at the news. The call left Torrean Johnson speechless.
"For a second I was completely, I was in utter joy," he says. Cotton told him to check his own email for verification. "Then I looked up on my email, and it turned out I didn't get it."
As it turns out, the scholar program had already sent Johnson an email and a letter telling him he was not a winner. But he somehow missed those.
The follow up email to his teacher was a mistake, one of 276 erroneously sent to nominating teachers nationwide, a foundation spokeswoman said.
"I was just so disgusted," said Cotton.
She says she nearly cried a second time.
The Gates Millennium Scholar Program apologized in another email.
"To our deep embarrassment, we have discovered through feedback from many of you that an error by a member of our staff led to you receiving incorrect information." "We deeply regret if this has in any way inconvenienced you and/or the student."
"I was really counting on this scholarship to provide me what I needed," Johnson says.
He is fourth in his class, student council president, and made it to the state competition in tenor sax in jazz band.
He's getting other scholarship offers, but nothing as good as the Millennium.
"Everything is in God's hands," he says. "So maybe I wasn't supposed to get this scholarship."
He says he'll learn from the disappointment and move on. He wants to study bio-medical engineering. He says he'll still find a way to do that.