Scholarship America Announces 2018 Dream Award Recipients - Scholarship America

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Scholarship America Announces 2018 Dream Award Recipients

By Matt Konrad

MINNEAPOLIS (April 2, 2018) – Twelve extraordinary students have been selected as recipients of Scholarship America’s 2018 Dream Award, given to students who have completed or expect to successfully complete at least one full year of postsecondary education by June, 2018.

The Dream Award is Scholarship America’s renewable scholarship program for financially needy students who have overcome barriers and have successfully started their college education. Awards were made to 12 students selected from across the nation who are entering their second year or higher of education beyond high school; the scholarships are both renewable and increase in amount each year.

“This is a remarkable group of students with incredible potential,” said Robert C. Ballard, President and CEO of Scholarship America. “They have overcome abandonment, abuse, serious illness, poverty and homelessness, among other challenges. Their stories are powerful and moving. These students represent the best of American perseverance and the dream to make a better life.”

The 12 recipients are:

  • Jacoby Barry, a computer engineering major at Mercer University. Hometown: New Orleans, LA
  • Denis Cruz, an industrial engineering major at Texas A&M University-Commerce. Hometown: Dallas, TX
  • Yifan He, a data science and government major at Dartmouth College. Hometown: New York, NY
  • Chantel N. Lewis-Cummings, a mechanical engineering and business major at the University of Georgia. Hometown: Savannah, GA
  • Jaquaious Little, a computer science major at the University of Alabama. Hometown: Artesia, MS
  • Jamisen K. Moore, a biological anthropology major at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Hometown:  Durham, NC
  • Miguel A. Aguirre Morales, a biology major at Wabash College. Hometown: Donna, TX
  • Rachel Muir, a government major at Dartmouth College. Hometown: Hanover, NH
  • Cynthia Namaswa, a nursing major at the University of St. Joseph. Hometown: Lebanon, CT
  • Christian E. Urrea, a public relations major at the University of Houston. Hometown: Houston, TX
  • Jacqueline Vela, a history and literature major at East Los Angeles College. Hometown:  Los Angeles, CA
  • Donja Wilkinson, a biology major at Georgia State University. Hometown: Washington, D.C.

“There are not words that could describe my happiness the moment I saw the notification,” Denis Cruz said. “I wanted to run, cry out loud, but most importantly I wanted to tell my family that everything was going to be fine now.”

“Thank you for believing in my abilities and my future … and allowing me to continue my college career,” said Donja Wilkinson. “If I did not get this scholarship, college would not be an option. I will now be the first in my family to go to college and graduate college and owe that all to this scholarship.”

Recipients were determined by a Dream Award Selection Committee headed by Dr. Martha Kanter, the executive director of the College Promise Campaign and a senior fellow at the Steinhardt Institute for Higher Education Policy at New York University. Other selection committee members were: Robert C. Ballard, president and CEO, Scholarship America; Alejandra Ceja, Executive Director, Panasonic Foundation; Dr. Mildred Garcia, President, American Association of State Colleges and Universities; Gabriella Gomez, Deputy Director of Postsecondary Policy and Advocacy, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Jim Larimore, Chief Officer, ACT Center for Equity Learning; Dr. Eloy Oakley, Chancellor, California Community Colleges; and Zakiya Smith, Strategy Director for Finance and Federal Policy, Lumina Foundation.

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Pam Carlson

About Scholarship America® 
For 60 years, Scholarship America has worked directly with students, parents, colleges, businesses and communities to empower people to fulfill their college dreams. As the nation’s largest private education support organization, having distributed over $3.9 billion to more than 2.4 million students, Scholarship America is now working to further engage the private sector to support programs and policies that advance equity in postsecondary education and help students overcome barriers to access, persistence and attainment. More information is available at or by following @scholamerica.