The University of Tennessee has offered a fourth-grade student who was bullied for his homemade T-shirt a four-year scholarship at the school.
“In recognition of the fourth-grader’s Volunteer spirit, the university has extended an offer of honorary admission for him to join the Class of 2032. In addition, he has been awarded a four-year scholarship covering his tuition and fees beginning fall 2028 should he decide to attend UT and meet admission requirements,” the university wrote in a press release on Sept. 12.
— UT Knoxville (@UTKnoxville) September 12, 2019
The Florida boy, who has not been identified, garnered the attention of the university and people online after his teacher posted his story of being bullied for the design of the shirt.
Laura Snyder, his teacher at Altamonte Elementary School in Altamonte Springs, said her student drew the university’s logo “U.T.” on a piece of paper, which he then pinned on his orange T-shirt.
“When the day finally arrived, he was SO EXCITED to show me his shirt,” Snyder wrote on Facebook last week. “I was impressed that he took it one step further to make his own label.”
Snyder said after lunch he noticed that the boy was in tears.
“Some girls at the lunch table next to his (who didn’t even participate in college colors day) had made fun of his sign that he had attached to his shirt. He was DEVASTATED,” she wrote. “I know kids can be cruel, I am aware that it’s not the fanciest sign, BUT this kid used the resources he had available to him to participate in a spirit day.”
The teacher then added that she was planning to get him a real University of Tennessee T-shirt and asked when anyone had contacts with the university who could “make it a little extra special for him.”
On the next day, the story became viral with people far and wide, reaching out to offer their support and love for the student. She said the University of Tennessee had decided to send a care package to the student, which includes a number of gifts such as a university jersey, cap, bag, notebooks, and other merchandise.
Moreover, the university subsequently announced that the boy’s design of the university logo would be made into an official T-shirt.
“Share in a Florida elementary student’s Volunteer pride by wearing his design on your shirt too! Pre-order today for a late September expected delivery,” the university’s Volshop tweeted.
Share in a Florida elementary student’s Volunteer pride by wearing his design on your shirt too! Pre-order today for a late September expected delivery. A portion of proceeds from every shirt sold will be donated to @STOMPOutBullyng .https://t.co/NdnTtYREFL pic.twitter.com/OeTZvgC09Y
— VolShop (@UTVolShop) September 6, 2019
It added that a portion of the proceeds of every shirt sold was to be donated to an anti-bullying charity.
“When I told him that his design was being made into a real shirt and people wanted to wear it, his jaw dropped,” said Snyder. “He had a big smile on his face, walked taller, and I could tell his confidence grew today!”
On Sept. 12, the university said as of the day of the press release more than 50,000 shirts featuring the boy’s design had been pre-sold.
The university said officials from the school had spoken with the boy’s mother on numerous occasions and expressed their gratitude.