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Livingstone College offers full scholarship to Liberian teen who made national news for selfless gesture

19-year-old returned $50,000 found on Liberian roadside
Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 2:11 PM EDT
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SALISBURY, N.C. (WBTV) - A selfless gesture on the part of a teenager in Liberia is making an impact 4000 miles away in North Carolina. Emmanuel Tuloe found a bag containing a large sum of money on the side of the road in Liberia. He gave the money back to its owner. That gesture has earned him praise, but on Wednesday, Livingstone College in Salisbury offered him a full scholarship.

In Salisbury there were college officials, local dignitaries, even the Liberian Ambassador to the United States…joining them via technology, officials from Liberia and 19-year-old Emmanuel Tuloe, whose selfless action has inspired people around the world, including Livingstone College President Dr. Jimmy Jenkins.

“We thought clearly education is the surest vehicle for upward mobility in the world, so we decided that it was possible to extend an invitation to Emmanuel to come to be a Blue Bear because we take our students where they are and take them where they need to be so they can command their rightful place in the global society,” said Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins.

The historically black college has a longstanding history with Liberia through its founding denomination, the A.M.E. Zion Church, and through its collaboration with the Liberian Organization of the Piedmont (LOP), based in Winston-Salem, NC.

Livingstone College currently sponsors two Liberian students every four years through its partnership with the LOP. The college also supports A.M.E. Zion University in Monrovia as its international sister college.

“It’s the perfect complement to the work Livingstone is already doing in Liberia,” said Dr. James Hunder, LOP chairman of the board, who met with Jenkins on Thursday to discuss the proposition. “When I heard about this young man’s story, I thought of Livingstone College right away and knew Dr. Jenkins would be receptive to the idea.”

Riding his motorbike earlier this month near his home in Liberia, Tuloe fund a plastic bag dropped on the road. It contained $50,000. Tuloe gave the money to his aunt to hold until he could find the owner. That owner made an appeal on Liberian radio begging for the money, so Tuloe returned it.

“It sets an example for young people in Liberia to begin to practice integrity, honesty, to be selfless, and to be humanitarian,” said the Liberian Ambassador to the United States George S.W. Patten. “What Livingstone has done today is send a very powerful message to Liberian people about being upright and doing the right thing.”

Livingstone has offered Tuloe a full ride scholarship once he completes high school. What would that mean to a Liberian student? Thelma Roberts came to Livingstone from Liberia.

“That is going to help Emmanuel to pave the road for other kids to see what he has done and is doing for our country,” Roberts said. “It’s going to take him farther in life because his honesty has already made a way for him.”

Roberts graduated with honors in May and plans to go back to help her country.

“I went through the process of getting the scholarship, enrolled in Livingstone, graduated with honors, and today I’m here trying to get better.”

Through an interpreter, Tuloe said he was very grateful for the offer of the scholarship from Livingstone. He said he would like to learn computer science.

Tuloe’s gesture has earned much-deserved public commendations including from the President of the Republic of Liberia, Dr. George Manneh Weah, with whom he met in person on Oct. 18. The President said he would present the teenager with one of the country’s highest Orders of Distinction in a future ceremony.

Upon meeting the President, Tuloe was prepared to discuss one thing: his education. Like many teenagers in the country, Tuloe dropped out of school in the seventh grade to run a motorcycle taxi service to make money for his family.

Tuloe told President Weah on Monday that his desire was to finish his education. He also asked him to encourage other young people to leave the taxi business and focus on going back to school.

President Weah and his family personally offered a scholarship to Tuloe to attend any school of his choice in Liberia, up to the master’s level. Additionally, the president gave him $10,000 USD and two new motorcycles.

According to a press release from the Liberian Executive Mansion, President Weah called the young man “a prime example of what the Bible teaches us in Proverbs 22:1, that a good name is rather to be chosen than great riches.”

Tuloe faced criticism from his peers for returning the money with some mocking him, saying he will never get rich in his lifetime and die poor.

The owner of the money presented him with cash and materials valued at $1,500. Among his gifts was a mattress, which he said he would give to his grandmother.

Livingstone College contributed to this story.

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