SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - A college-bound South Florida student received a special surprise at Zoo Miami in the form of a scholarship and a matching grant totaling $10,000.

Kathryn Treacy serves as an ambassador for the zoo by engaging with guests while providing information about wildlife. Her dream is to become a wildlife veterinarian.

On Friday, she thought she was heading to the zoo for an interview about a conservation project.

“I must tell you, Kath, that we were a little misleading with you,” said Ron Magill, the zoo’s communications director. “You’re here for something a little bit more special than that.”

Little did she know she would be leaving with money from the Ron Magill Conservation Scholarship.

The student received a $5,000 check from the Ron Magill Conservation Scholarship to help her with her future career path.

“Thank you so much,” said Treacy.

But the Zoo Miami Foundation had one more surprise for the young wildlife lover.

“The foundation, through their education department, has matched this grant to give you $10,000 to hopefully use for your education,” said Magill.

Magill later spoke with 7News about the holiday surprise.

“Ten thousand dollars right before Christmas? This is huge!” he said.

Treacy welled up with joy.

“Today was a big shocker to me, very surprising. I did not expect it whatsoever, and I am more than overjoyed right now,” she said. “Overwhelmed, just grateful, very, very grateful, especially to be granted this money from Ron Magill, from Zoo Miami.”

Magill said it’s inspiring to give something to this young woman who has already given so much to the zoo.

He added that he started the scholarship to help the next generation who will have to take up the torch of saving our wildlife.

“To invest in our youth is the greatest thing that we can do. They really are the future,” he said. “A dream for anybody like me is to be an old man — well, I’m almost there — but an old man one day, sitting in a rocking chair and watching something or reading something, and recognizing the name and say, ‘I remember her when.'”

Treacy’s parents, who were on hand at the event, said they were surprised by the generous gesture.

“Very proud,” said her father.

Treacy has been accepted to the University of Florida, where she plans to major in animal science with a minor in wildlife ecology and conservation.

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