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Press release content from Business Wire. The AP news staff was not involved in its creation.

Four Graduate Students Surprised with $80,000 in Scholarships from Sallie Mae

May 16, 2019 GMT

NEWARK, Del.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--May 16, 2019--

Four inspirational graduate school students were each awarded a $20,000 Bridging the Dream Scholarship from Sallie Mae. The four students, who assumed they were only finalists for the scholarship, were surprised yesterday by the company’s Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Donna Vieira, during her presentation at the Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) Brand Activation Marketing Conference.

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Mary Sun, Kristen Lear, Joshua Yang, and Felipe Hernandez were surprised to learn that they are recipients of the 2019 Sallie Mae Bridging the Dream Scholarship for Graduate Students. (Photo: Business Wire)

“The ANA Conference provided the perfect backdrop to share how Sallie Mae’s brand is evolving, and created an opportunity to put those words into action with our surprise scholarship announcement,” said Donna Vieira, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, Sallie Mae. “This year’s recipients are a distinguished group of scholars who are doing amazing things in their respective fields. It’s particularly gratifying to create additional opportunities through our Bridging the Dream Scholarship Program and to help them continue to build prosperous futures for themselves and others.”

This year’s recipients — Felipe Hernandez of California, Kristen Lear of Ohio, Mary Sun of Virginia, and Joshua Yang of California — were selected from more than 4,700 applications. Candidates were asked to creatively describe their journey to graduate school, who or what influenced them to pursue an advanced degree, and what advice they would give themselves as college freshmen.

Felipe Hernandez, a first-generation college student and Fulbright Scholar, is completing his law degree at Harvard University, and aspires to assist and advocate for low-income communities and minorities.

“As a first-generation student, I didn’t assume college, let alone graduate school, was a possibility for me, but I was determined to make it happen,” said Hernandez. “Receiving the Bridging the Dream Scholarship only further encourages me to continue fighting for the rights of others, so that they, too, may be able to overcome barriers to success. I am grateful for Sallie Mae’s support and generosity.”


Kristen Lear, a PhD candidate at the University of Georgia and Fulbright Scholar, is a conservationist who aspires to leverage her love of science and nature to support the next generation of women scientists, and to inspire others to be good stewards of the world.

“I am honored to be selected as a recipient of Sallie Mae’s Bridging the Dream Scholarship for Graduate Students,” said Lear. “Scholarships like this allow me to continue on my higher education journey and ultimately positions me for personal and professional success.”

Mary Sun, a medical student at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, aspires to reform the American health care experience with a focus on victims of abuse.

“This scholarship is an investment in my ultimate goal to help others,” said Sun. “I am empowered by this opportunity and will work to ensure others feel the impact of my studies.”

Joshua Yang, a bio-tech entrepreneur, is currently enrolled in a MD-PhD program at Johns Hopkins University. This fall, he will begin working on his MBA at Stanford University and plans to use his degree to bring new innovations to healthcare.

“Leaving medical school to pursue my MBA was a tough decision, but what has shaped my decisions throughout my personal and academic life has been an intrinsic, ever-present feeling to never settle,” said Yang. “Receiving this scholarship from Sallie Mae not only confirms that I made the right decision, but also puts me one step closer to achieving my goals in healthcare leadership and innovation.”

Sallie Mae’s Bridging the Dream Scholarship for Graduate School is an extension of the company’s Bridging the Dream Scholarship Program, which together have awarded more than $500,000 in scholarships over the past three years to college-bound high school students and graduate students.

Sallie Mae also offers Graduate School Scholarship Search tool, which offers access to 950,000 graduate scholarships worth up to $1 billion.

For more information, visit

Sallie Mae (Nasdaq: SLM) believes education and life-long learning, in all forms, help people achieve great things. As the leader in private student lending, we provide financing and know-how to support access to college and offer products and resources to help customers make new goals and experiences, beyond college, happen. Learn more at Commonly known as Sallie Mae, SLM Corporation and its subsidiaries are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.

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CONTACT: Antoine L. Oakley




SOURCE: Sallie Mae

Copyright Business Wire 2019.

PUB: 05/16/2019 10:21 AM/DISC: 05/16/2019 10:21 AM