KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Three seniors at Austin-East Magnet High School were offered scholarships to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville on Wednesday.

Darius Jackson, Zakeyous Houston and Charlie Smith were given the offers by the admissions team during a surprise assembly hosted by UT.

“I was ecstatic, scared and really proud of myself. It all came at me fast and I really couldn’t process it,” Jackson said.

Austin-East is a UT Flagship school, the three will also receive UT’s Flagship Scholarship. According to UT, when combined with the state’s HOPE Scholarship, the Flagship Scholarship covers tuition and mandatory fees for up to eight semesters.

Jackson participated in UT’s Project Excellence and completed an AVID entrepreneurship class, according to UT. He has been admitted to the university exploratory track. Teachers describe him as a “dependable and responsible student who is passionate about art.”

Jackson also told WATE that he plans to major in graphic design.

Houston has been admitted to the university exploratory track with interests in business and finance. He is described as a “high-achieving student who balances sports and a part-time job while completing honors, advanced and AP coursework.” He is on the school’s football team and an Austin-East student ambassador.

Smith is described as someone who “champions peers’ successes.” They’ve been admitted to the agricultural sciences and natural resources exploratory track.

UT shared that Smith is involved in many Austin-East programs, including UT’s Project Excellence, the Robotics Club, Air Force ROTC, the Project GRAD Summer Institute and the NASA Student Spaceflight Experiments Program.

“Oftentimes UT can seem like a faraway place even for students who grew up here in Knoxville and so it has been super important for us to invest in Austin-East and our other local flagship school to help breakdown that invisible barrier that might exist between students in the community and the university,” said Redrick Taylor III, director of Diversity Recruitment and Outreach.

There are 38 UT Flagship high schools across Tennessee, and Austin-East is one of three in Knoxville.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated.