Destiny Brannon went viral in 2018 after her valedictorian title was stripped by a Texas high school due to an alleged technicality. Four years later, the young woman is ready to graduate from university with very little debt thanks to the generous support of strangers.
“Everything ended up working perfectly,” Brannon said. WFAA. “I just feel very blessed and overwhelmed.”
Brannon, 22, is currently enrolled at the University of Texas where she majored in health and society, but her college dreams were nearly dashed in 2018 when she attended DeSoto High School.
That year, Brannon was recognized as valedictorian and received a plaque from the school board and during her graduation speech she criticized the high school’s “mediocre teachers”. Brannon’s family believe the speech got him stripped of his valedictorian title, leGrio reported.
The school blamed the mistake on a grade miscalculation. Brannon’s parents argued that school officials deliberately changed his rank from no. 1 to no. 3, while the no. 4 ranked student, Brian Uzuegbunam, was moved to first place.
In a statement at the time, DeSoto ISD said it “regrets not ensuring systems were in place to prevent this from happening, but has since worked diligently to ensure that culprits have been held accountable and that there is a system and process in place to verify the academic ranking of students based on grades, GPA and course weighting.
As valedictorian, Brannon reportedly received free first-year college tuition at Texas. It wasn’t until she attended freshman orientation at the University of Texas at Austin that she learned of the “embarrassing” gaffe about her senior class ranking.
Distraught over the situation, Brannon and his family immediately took action by starting a GoFundMe to raise money to help pay for UT tuition, which at the time cost $25,000 a year. Brannon ultimately raised just over $40,000, with one donor donating $10,000, according to the report.
“I made sure to thank everyone who donated,” Brannon said. “I felt so blessed and overwhelmed.”
When UT heard of Brannon’s story, the university paid for all of his undergraduate books and housing for four years.
“They didn’t have to, so I’m very grateful that they wanted to help me,” Brannon said.
Brannon said the money she raised covered almost all of her tuition. She graduates in May and will attend Dallas School of Nursing at Baylor.
“I’ve always wanted to help people and meet their needs,” Brannon said.
“I hope one day I can give back to a great capacity, like everyone else has given me.”