HAMPTON — Barien White settles into a booth in the Hampton University student center, an Oprah baseball cap perched on the table in front of him.
The 18-year-old is attending HU courtesy of the talk show hostess and Black Eyed Peas frontman Will.i.am.
The two surprised White, his fraternal twin Darien and two of their friends on Oprah Winfrey’s show in May with full “I.am.scholarships” to the college of their choice.
White moved into Harkness Hall on Aug. 20, about a week before the official move-in day for freshman, so he could begin practicing with cross-country and track teams.
He flashes a bright smile as he recounts how his big moment on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” came about. The program’s producer called after receiving a letter from Jaiquann Beckham, who was on White’s track team at Christiana High School in Delaware.
Beckham detailed how his teammates all had good grades, worked to help support their families and couldn’t afford to attend college.
The White brothers and two friends were selected as guests on “Oprah” for what they thought was a segment to talk about the recession and its affect on education.
Instead, they were presented with full rides to the college of their choice.
Barien’s brother is attending Virginia Tech. Beckham chose Cabrini College near Philadelphia, and Elijah Williams is going to the University of North Carolina Wilmington.
White said he didn’t have any expectations of what Winfrey might give them, even though he heard she usually did big giveaways to her guests. His mother, Stacy Rankins, said she told her sons they might get free school supplies, such as a laptop computer. She clapped her hand over her face, lowered her head, and said “Thank you, God,” when Will.i.am announced he was giving them scholarships.