HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — In 2019, Alton Coston III, from Varina, gave a stirring speech at his high school graduation, moving many in attendance at the ceremony, as well as thousands online in a video of the speech that went viral. He spoke candidly about his battle with depression in his commencement address.
“Depression is something that a lot of teens, not even teens, but a lot of people, in general, go through,” Coston said at the Varina High School graduation ceremony three years ago. “I was depressed because my family simply could not afford for me to go to college.”
Despite his battle with depression, Coston was accepted to the College of William & Mary on a full-tuition scholarship. Coston, who is now in his third year of studies at the college, is continuing to excel. 8News has learned that he has been awarded the prestigious Truman Scholarship by the Harry S. Truman Foundation.
Coston joins 58 other scholars across the country named by the foundation this year. He is the first recipient from William & Mary since Katherine Swartz received the scholarship in 2008, according to the college’s website.
The Truman Scholarship will go toward funding graduate studies and fellowship opportunities for Coston. According to the Truman Foundation, Coston plans to pursue a joint M.Ed./J.D. degree that would combine his interests in education and law with the goal to protect students’ civil rights in public education settings.
Congress created the Truman Foundation in 1975 as a monument to public service. A brainchild of the 33rd U.S. president, who did not attend college, the foundation is a federal agency within the White House organization. The foundation oversees the Truman Scholarship, a graduate fellowship awarded to those pursuing careers as public service leaders, and administers various programs to Truman Scholars that guide them in their careers.