MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Wealthy CEO’s and celebrities have been arrested in a college admission scam, accused of paying bribes to get their kids into prestigious schools.
WMC5 spoke to a local education proponent about why this story should encourage Mid-South students to work even harder.
Terence Patterson knows exactly what it takes to get into an Ivy League school. In his case it wasn't money or influence.
"I worked amazingly hard! Incredibly hard!" Patterson said.
Patterson is a Germantown High School grad who became a student athlete, a football player at Harvard.
He went on to get his graduate degree from Northwestern.
Today, he's the CEO of the Memphis Education Fund, a philanthropic group that's invested $50 million in local education since 2015.
Patterson says he wasn't shocked by the news that dozens of wealthy parents were charged in a massive college admissions scam.
Actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman are among the accused, trying to get their kids into schools like UCLA, Stanford, Yale and Georgetown.
Federal documents show parents paid the scheme’s mastermind millions through a fake charity. He would then arrange for people to take admissions exams for his clients children, alter test scores, or bribe coaches to help students gain admission as an athlete.
"This is a case where they flaunted their wealth, sparing no expense, to cheat the system so they could set their children up for success with the best education money could buy. Literally,” said Joseph Bonavolonta from the FBI.
Patterson says this scandal reveals a harsh reality:
"I think it should motivate kids to work even harder,” Patterson said. “This highlights the fact that the competitive nature of getting into top tier institutions is real."
Several of the universities have released statements saying they are cooperating fully with the investigation.
As more details emerge, Patterson's advice to students is to keep hitting the books.
"Young people need to continue to work hard, no matter their level. And you can never start too early,” Patterson said.
Patterson went to Harvard thinking he wanted to be a doctor. He switched to government and public policy, deciding instead to give back to his community.