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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Nearly 50 students received a standing ovation for their accomplishments Monday morning at the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship breakfast held at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

“Lot of hard work that I’ve been through, a lot of the things my mentors have been teaching me, it’s all paid off. It’s like they’re passing down the torch to me,” said high school senior Jordan Ahmedei

As part of the 5,000 Role Models of Excellence Project, 47 Wilson Scholars in the Class of 2019 were awarded scholarships. The students were recognized for their academic and personal achievements.

“It affected my life introducing me to people who have helped me better myself,” said Ahemedei.

Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson, who founded the project, said she did so with the intention of having strong role models intervene in the lives of students who may be at risk of going down the wrong path.

“It’s a wonderful feeling to watch these little boys from the 3rd grade go through the third grade, through middle school and through high school,” she said.

But as rewarding as it is for the students, it’s equally special for the mentors.

“I love the fact that we can be a positive person in their lives and make sure they have someone they can go to for any reason they may need, whether it’s educational, whether it’s personal. That’s a beautiful relationship,” said mentor Ray Smith.

The annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Breakfast raises scholarship money for graduating seniors of the 5,000 Role Models of Excellence Project. Mayor Carlos Gimenez and the County Commission donated $379-thousand that will go towards providing scholarships for 23 more young men.

The 5,000 Role Models of Excellence Project is in 105 Miami-Dade County Public schools.

As Dr. King had a dream, these students are celebrated and encouraged for following theirs.

Since its founding in 1993, the program has awarded millions of dollars in scholarships to Role Models students.

Karli Barnett

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