Lyric Wise is a name you’re going to want to remember. Despite her young age, she already has a story of perseverance and that is universally inspiring. So inspiring to us, in fact, that we worked with Good Morning America to tell her story and give her the surprise of a lifetime.
Lyric is a senior at Paul Robeson High School for Human Services in Philadelphia. In her own words, she had spent her senior year “doing everything right.” She got good grades — good enough to make her class salutatorian — and participates in as many extracurricular activities as the pandemic allows. She’s the president of her school’s National Honor Society, participated in First Hand Philly, played softball, volleyball, and cheered, and even started her own nonprofit organization, Opioid Dependency Prevention. For Lyric, this was all about preparing for an important goal: going to college. Lyric was determined to be a first-generation college student, and the first in her family to graduate high school. She took college prep classes at The Community College of Philadelphia and The University of Pennsylvania, and was beginning to plan for her major and future career. However, when the pandemic hit and Lyric started finalizing her plans for continuing her education, there was one substantial obstacle standing in her way: the cost of higher education.
Just like countless other Americans, Lyric and her family were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Lyric’s father had passed away a few years prior, and her mother’s work hours were cut back in 2020. Lyric wasn’t able to physically attend classes at her high school, which had been a stable, safe place for her to focus on her education. “College had always been part of the plan…the whole virtual experience was hectic. I’m a hands-on learner. But with everything I’d accomplished, I knew I couldn’t give up…but I was really this close to saying I’m over it.” In the midst of the pandemic, Lyric and her family had to move out of their house, and she was forced to live apart from her mother for a period of time. With all of this going on, Lyric remained focused on her next steps, and turned to Tallo in search of finding financial aid for her top choice university, Drexel. When she saw Tallo’s $10,000 scholarship opportunity, she applied right away. What drew her in at first was the fact that Tallo’s scholarship was a “no essay” one. She told us later that when she saw that opportunity, she thought “That’s what I need, because I was so tired of writing essays!”
Lyric’s scholarship submission caught our eye right away. The Tallo team was inspired by her intelligence, drive, and passion for continuing her education. So, rather than going our normal route of sending Lyric a Tallo message letting her know she won the scholarship, we devised an extra-special surprise, which our friends at Good Morning America helped us pull off.
Step one of the surprise was letting Lyric and her family know that she won the scholarship. Step two was informing her that the scholarship she applied for was actually $50,000, not $10,000. The hosts of Good Morning America, including Michael Strahan, Robin Roberts, and Jamai Norman, brought a camera crew, along with the Drexel University mascot and cheerleaders, to Lyric’s house to award her with a giant $50,000 check!
The story doesn’t stop there. Until May 13, 2021, we’re hosting a $5,000 “Pay it Forward” Scholarship on Tallo. We hope that Lyric’s story is a source of optimism for students in similar situations across the country. Even when things seem low, there is always a way forward. We hope to continue to break down barriers and help students connect with the opportunities they need to turn their dreams into reality.
To watch the full surprise on Good Morning America, click here!