How a Humans of New York story turned into a class trip to visit Harvard — and $1 million.

Sometimes, the best thing you can do for someone is expect them to do great things.

“Who's influenced you the most in your life?"

Last January, a 13-year-old named Vidal was asked this question on a street in Brooklyn. He was chatting with portrait photographer Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York (HONY).

Little did either of them know just how big an impact their conversation would have.


Vidal said his principal, Nadia Lopez, was his biggest influence.

"When we get in trouble, she doesn't suspend us," he said. "She tells us that each time somebody fails out of school, a new jail cell gets built. And one time she made every student stand up, one at a time, and she told each one of us that we matter."

Vidal on the left with his comments about his principal Ms. Lopez on the right. Images by HONY and NBC News.

As reported by NBC Nightly News, Vidal's story spread rapidly — and so did the story of his principal, Ms. Lopez, and her dedication to her students (whom she calls "scholars").

Other students had equally glowing things to say about the principal, Ms. Lopez.

When NBC interviewed a few other students of Mott Hall Bridges Academy in Brooklyn, they all agreed with Vidal: Ms. Lopez is an amazing principal who refuses to see anything but the best in her students.

Via NBC News.

Via NBC News.

Ms. Lopez explained to HONY, “This is a neighborhood that doesn't necessarily expect much from our children, so at Mott Hall Bridges Academy, we set our expectations very high."

What now? Principal Lopez is sending her scholars to visit Harvard.

Fueled by the huge response to Ms. Lopez's dedication and attitude, the school partnered with HONY to put up a fundraising page.

The goal? To send groups of middle school students to visit Harvard to see what it's like and to show them that they could make it there and that they're expected to achieve great things.

... to show them they could make it there and that they're expected to achieve great things.

The fundraiser, which has since ended, was so successful (over $1 million was raised!) that the school was also able to set up a scholarship for graduates of the middle school. It's called The Vidal Scholarship Fund. And who's the first recipient? Vidal, the kid who started it all with a few simple words on a street in Brooklyn.

Check out NBC's report on the story, below:

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