by Sharon ChinBy Sharon Chin

EAST PALO ALTO (KPIX) — Several at-risk high school seniors on the Peninsula were shocked to learn last week that Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant has offered to foot the bill for the first year of their college education.

Those students with big dreams are still soaking in the news.

When Durant made the announcement, Alycia Demery didn’t believe it at first. It seemed too good to be true.

She had been unsure if she would be able to go to college because her parents could not afford it.

“My parents couldn’t help me pay for certain things, let alone food when I go to college,” explained Demery. “Not even a comforter when I go to college. We were struggling to pay for all those things.”

Demery, a senior at East Palo Alto Academy, won the Peninsula Boys and Girls Club’s Youth of the Year award February 7 that Durant helped judge.

But finalists Joselin Quinteros, Dezmond Frazier and Magali Pineda of Redwood City also ended up being winners when the Kevin Durant Charity Foundation promised to pay for all four students’ freshman year tuition.

Quinteros wants to be a lawyer. When the scholarship news sank in, she got emotional.

“That’s when I started crying because I mean, it hits you. Because my parents cannot afford it,” Quinteros said.

Demery, who was accepted at Loyola, wants to study music and pursue social justice.

KD’s generosity is about more than money.

“I’ve always felt I wasn’t good enough. So when someone believes in you enough to pay for your college tuition, it’s like, ‘I think I got this,'” said Demery.

Each student has struggled with homelessness. Now, they have a ticket to their dreams.

“I’m first generation in my family to go to college,” declared Pineda.

And they’re dreaming big. Frazier already knows what he wants for his future.

“First, a mayor. Then a governor. Then congressman, then eventually President of the United States,” he smiled.

And now, the students say the ball is in their court. They want to do well in college, and give back, to make their families, community and Durant proud.