ATLANTA (WJZ) — A huge honor for a young man from Baltimore. His hard work and dedication pay off when he gets a surprise from President Obama.

Adam May reports.

Everyone attending the graduation ceremony at Morehouse College in Atlanta knew President Obama was the keynote speaker.

But Leland Shelton had no idea the commander-in-chief was about to share his inspirational story.

“When Leland Shelton was four-years-old, Social Services took him away from his mother and put him in the care of his grandparents. By age 14, he was in the foster care system,” the president said.

“And today he is graduating Phi Beta Kappa on his way to Harvard Law School,” he continued.

Shelton told WJZ he was shocked, a date to remember forever, fighting back tears.

“I knew if I started crying, my family wouldn’t be able to take it,” Shelton said.

Shelton graduated from Baltimore’s City College in 2009.

And he’s a member of a national foster care advisory group, now helping other foster children.

“I see Baltimore as a city with a great future, because if a kid like me can do what I’ve done and plan to do in life, I know there are many other kids in Baltimore who can do the same thing,” said Shelton.

Shelton got a scholarship from Black Professional Men, Inc. of Baltimore.

“For the president of the United States to make a statement of that magnitude, he was in a state of shock. We’re all still in a state of shock right now,” said Rod L. Carter, Black Professional Men, Inc.

Shelton told WJZ he’s thinking he might want to hold some sort of elected office someday to help children in Baltimore.

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