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A rap superstar is giving back to the community he came from by giving thousands in college scholarships to Queens students.
Curtis J. Jackson III, a rapper better known "50 Cent," and his rap group G-Unit recently donated $62,000 in scholarship funds to students attending Queensborough Community College in Bayside.
The scholarships are part of the G-Unity Foundation, a public organization focused on improving the life of low-income communities. Jackson and G-Unit members Christopher C. Lloyde Jr., David Darnell Brown and Marvin Bernard, serve on the foundation's board of directors and actively participate in the foundation's charities, which include grants to Brooklyn schools, the Harlem Boys Choir and the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning. The foundation touts supporting academic success and enrichment as its main goals.
"I wouldn't be able to start school right away without the G-Unity scholarship," said Davihannah Hunte, 21, a QCC student who received the scholarship. "It was like a miracle."
This is the fourth year QCC has been awarded the scholarships. The first scholarships were given to 10 students in the summer of 2005. Each scholarship covers the full cost of the student's tuition of about $2,800 and provides $300 a year for books and materials. The scholarship is renewed for the student's second year at QCC. About 20 QCC students will benefit from the funds this year.
Chenee Campbell, 19, discovered she had won a G-Unity scholarship during her graduation ceremony at Campus Magnet High School in Cambria Heights.
"I was shocked beyond belief," she said. Campbell, who is studying liberal arts and hopes to become a teacher, said she probably would have attended college without the scholarship but it would have been much more difficult.
"It's opened some doors for me," she said.
To be eligible for the scholarship, students must have earned a grade point average of 70 or higher and graduated from one of three Queens high schools: Campus Magnet High School, Hillcrest High School or Springfield Gardens High School.
All schools are near Jamaica where Jackson grew up.
Jackson endured a hard life in Jamaica before making it big in 2003 with his album "Get Rich or Die Tryin'." He was raised by his grandmother and served jail time for selling drugs. He attended Andrew Jackson High School, which later became Campus Magnet High School. In 2000, Jackson survived an attempt on his life when he was shot nine times on 161st Street in Jamaica.
"'He's proved that even though he had a pretty bad life when he was younger, he kept everything together and got what he wanted in life," said Justin Diamond, 20, another QCC student who received a G-Unity scholarship.
"He's one of only a few rappers that you hear of that gives back to the community," Diamond said. "Some rappers get their money and buy their houses. He's proved that he wants to give back."
Reach reporter Katy Gagnon by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300 Ext 174.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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