Returning to his hometown, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott spoke to local at-risk students Monday about the power of education.

The Carolina Youth Development Center’s Freedom School in North Charleston hosted Scott for its summer enrichment program, where the senator spoke about his life experiences while reading to the class.

Students entered with a song and dance to greet Scott, beginning with the Hallelujah Chorus.

Scott attempted to learn Harambee chants, a morning inspirational ritual that preceded the reading.

“Can you teach me that ‘wiggity-wiggity-wow’?” Scott asked the kids. “Is it a secret code?”

Scott, R-S.C., read aloud an excerpt from “Great Black Heroes: Five Brilliant Scientists,” featuring the life of Percy Lavon Julian, an African-American chemist inducted into the National Academy of Sciences and the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Scott said studying hard and doing well in school led Julian to success, as he knew he wanted to be a scientist.

“I’m a big believer that you have to see what you want to be and start talking about it in advance,” Scott said.

A few children in the class said they wanted to be professional football players, but not for Scott’s favorite Dallas Cowboys. One child, Ty’Shara Pugh, said she wanted to be a doctor.

“A doctor for the Cowboys?” Scott asked Ty’Shara jokingly.

Julian, while trying to earn his degree at DePauw University in Indiana, also had to work two jobs to support himself.

“You see throughout his life that he had to be strong-willed and disciplined to get the education he wanted,” Scott said.

Julian is responsible for developments in the fields of steroids and cortisone, a hormone to reduce stress and pain. Scott pointed to Julian’s many experiments as a great lesson in perseverance.

“Sometimes you run into obstacles that knock you down, but you have to get back up,” Scott said.

Scott, after finishing the reading, said he has succeeded and failed in business and politics, but these obstacles, he said, cannot be what stops you.

“If you work really hard, you get amazing results,” he said.

Rhiannon Rainsford, project director at Freedom Schools, found it fantastic for the children to hear Scott speak and learn about perseverance.

“I’m glad that he was able to share his message and his experiences,” she said.

Reach Nick Watson at 937-4810.