The Thomas Jefferson High School senior experienced another sudden twist during the Beyoncé and Jay-Z concert at CenturyLink Field on Thursday, when he was named the recipient of a $100,000 scholarship.
“I feel empowered,” Perry said in a YouTube video of the event. “All this work I’ve put in. All this time I’ve faced homelessness — everything that I’ve had to face in life … I’m going to be able to go to any college I want.”
Mark Hendricks, the outgoing operations director for the Federal Way Boys & Girls Club, said the BeyGood and Shawn Carter Foundations partnered with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America to give 11 $100,000 scholarships to motivated students in need at each of the 11 cities along the duo’s On the Run II tour. Before their final stop in Seattle, they contacted Boys and Girls Club of King County, who nominated Perry to receive the scholarship.
“Khairi was the Youth of the Year for Federal Way, he won the King County competition as a senior. It was a pretty obvious choice,” Hendricks said of Perry, who has a 3.5 GPA and plans to go to college to study computer science and major in IT.
But Hendricks had to keep the scholarship a surprise.
He told Perry that since he was the King County Youth of the Year recipient, the club got tickets from the Boys and Girls Club of America for Perry and his friends to go to the concert. Nineteen local club youth, including Perry and his three siblings, went to the concert, along with Hendricks, club staff and Perry’s mother.
When they went to pick up their tickets, Hendricks recalled telling the youngsters, “We’ll be so close they’ll be spitting on us.”
However, a minor glitch in the process sent the group to the suite level. Hendricks knew the real reason why the group was there, and knew they weren’t supposed to be so far away from the stage. A supervisor then saw the group to a red carpet area near the stage.
“We’re moving forward, we’re pushing through the crowd. We go up into this area and there’s only seven people standing between us and the stage,” Hendricks recalled.
A speaker on stage then introduced the scholarship program, noting the local recipient has been a member of the Federal Way Boys and Girls Club for seven years, and describes the club as not just for himself, but as a haven for his family.
“I don’t know how many people from the group were putting things together or not,” Hendricks recalled. “Here we are standing with Boys and Girls Club shirts.”
Then the speaker called Perry’s name. The kids surrounded Perry, jumping up and down and cheering.
“Everybody just all went crazy,” Hendricks said. “His mom was just in tears. It was really special to be there and to see him and to know that this young man is going to do great things for our world.”
He noted that since the event Perry has even thrown out names of colleges like Stanford.
“He hasn’t thrown that out before,” Hendricks said. “Transforming life is what it’s all about.”
Perry also got to go back stage after the show and meet Beyoncé and Jay-Z.
In the YouTube video, Perry thanked his mother for always being there.
“If you have a dream — follow it with all your heart,” Perry said. “Put everything into it. Don’t quit.”