By Ryan Baker

CHICAGO (CBS) — Since its inception a decade ago, Southland College Prep Charter High School has produced an abundance of academic achievers. Not even the pandemic could stop three special Southland students from pulling off a major accomplishment in 2020.

“I got matched to Brown University!” Kevin Carter said.

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Neither he nor his parents could contain their excitement when he found out he’s going be an Ivy Leaguer, getting a full ride to Brown University.

Classmates Bri’Yon Watts and Kamaria Gutter also got full rides to college; Bri’Yon to Duke University and Kamaria to Washington University.

Southland College Prep has not one, not two, but three seniors earning nearly $1 million combined in scholarship money from the QuestBridge National College Match program.

“From the beginning of high school, this has been my biggest goal: to get a full-ride scholarship. And, it’s a pandemic. I felt as if I can’t let any obstacle or challenge stop me from achieving my goal. I’ve already done so much to get this far. So I just gotta keep working for it,” Kevin said.

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“Kind of break down that stigma with certain kids; that you can go wherever you want to go, and you can do whatever you want to do,” Bri’Yon said.

“Almost 20,000 applicants, and only literally less than 6% were selected winners. To have three in one class really speaks to their tenacity and certainly their story,” said Southland director of college admissions Robert Lane.

Asked how much confidence it gives her to understand that if they were able to this, they can do anything, Kamaria said “it made me even want to achieve my goals even more.”

“It made me realize that I can do this, and that there’s nothing holding me back now, because now that I do have this opportunity, I’m gonna take it and I’m gonna run with it,” she added.

Kamaria, Bri’Yon and Kevin said they want to use this incredible opportunity to create positive change in their communities. QuestBridge connects exceptional high school seniors from low-income backgrounds across the country to the nation’s top colleges, covering all their expenses for four years; including tuition, room and board, books, and even travel expenses.

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