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Pharrell's Gift to These Grads: a 'Steppingstone' to Greatness

Singer vows to line up 114 internships by next summer
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 3, 2019 10:10 AM CDT
Pharrell Williams attends the world premiere of "The Black Godfather" in Los Angeles on June 3, 2019.   (Photo by Mark Von Holden/Invision/AP)

(Newser) – Pharrell Williams sure knows how to make people "happy." The Grammy-winning singer-producer stunned graduates of Harlem Children's Zone Promise Academy charter schools in New York during a keynote speech last week, announcing he'll line up "A-list internships" for all 114 of them—each of whom is headed to college, per CNN. "Every member of the 2019 graduating class is guaranteed an internship waiting for them—you—next summer," Williams said on June 26. The internships would relate to the students' fields of study. Jada Warmington, class valedictorian of Promise Academy 1, was left a "bit shocked," per BuzzFeed. "I knew that this [was] a steppingstone into something great."

Brionna Pope, who'll study animation at Syracuse University in the fall, is envisioning an internship at Pixar or DreamWorks, though no details have been revealed so far. It's a relief for "a lot of us who were financially struggling ... to at least know we had a head start in life," she tells CNN. Harlem Children's Zone CEO Anne Williams-Isom says the opportunity, combined with a college degree, would allow for "a livable wage" and help bring families "out of poverty," per BuzzFeed. "The world is watching Harlem, but this Renaissance will be different," said Williams. "And believe it or not, with respect, it's gonna actually be better ... because the new Harlem Renaissance has education at its core." (Read more Pharrell Williams stories.)

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