Scholarship America Announces 2022 Dream Award Scholars - Scholarship America

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Scholarship America Announces 2022 Dream Award Scholars

By Scholarship America

College Dreams Thrive Despite Expense of Higher Education

Twenty exceptional students have been selected nationally to receive Scholarship America’s 2022 Dream Award. The Dream Award is Scholarship America’s renewable scholarship program for students with financial need, who have overcome significant barriers to make it to college.

“At a time when some students question whether getting a college education is worth the high cost, others are committed to overcoming those challenges. Our Dream Award scholars represent those remarkable students who persevere despite the hardships in their lives,” said Mike Nylund, president and CEO of Scholarship America. “They’re determined to meet their education and career goals and we’re committed to helping them attain those goals.”

Since the Dream Award began in 2014, more than $2.4 million in scholarships have been awarded to 150 students. The hardships that Dream Award scholars have overcome include personal and family illnesses, poverty, neglect, learning disabilities and homelessness. Seventy percent of recipients are the first in their families to attend college; 80 percent have contributed financially to their families’ income; and nearly one-third have served as caregivers while enrolled as students.

For two years, the Dreams to Success event to honor Dream Award students has been virtual, due to the pandemic. This year, the event returns to an in-person dinner, awards ceremony and fundraiser on Thursday, June 16 at 7:00 pm EST, at the InterContinental—The Wharf in Washington D.C. More details on sponsoring, attending or viewing the event can be found at

For a list of this year’s Dream Award scholars, click here. They include:

Mara Land
Dell Rapids, South Dakota
Gallaudet University, Washington D.C.

Hearing loss shaped Mara’s education journey. She struggled to understand teachers, missed important information, and felt left out of conversations. That changed when Mara and her mother started learning American Sign Language (ASL). Learning ASL came naturally to Mara, but she estimates she traveled 30,000 miles for lessons and had to fight to keep funding for her ASL interpreter. Now a passionate advocate for deaf students, Mara is pursuing communication studies at Gallaudet University, the nation’s premier university for deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

Halia Morris
Huntsville, Alabama
Hampton University, Hampton, Virginia
When she was 14, Halia’s life was upended by a lymphoma diagnosis. She missed her basketball season, her volunteering and nearly a quarter of the school year. Determined to keep up in her challenging honor courses, she finished the year with an A average. Her health challenge helped her mature and become more resilient. Halia dreams of becoming a marine research biologist, pursuing a degree in marine and environmental science at Hampton University.

Mitchell Peterson
Oakland, California
Diablo Valley College, Pleasant Hill, California
Mitchell Peterson survived childhood cancer, but that wasn’t the end of his medical journey. His chemotherapy led to heart failure, and Mitchell received a new heart in 2019. Still facing medical challenges, this first-generation college student says going back to school has been his most uplifting and empowering choice since his transplant. He’s studying computer science and engineering at Diablo Valley College.

Sara Alsaifi
Boise, Idaho
Boise State University

Born in Syria, Sara Alsaifi was just six years old when her family left her troubled home country and emigrated to the United States. She started school behind her peers—but her aptitude, adaptability and a strong support system saw her taking nine Advanced Placement courses in high school. Along the way, she became captivated by the groundbreaking research, novel creations, and ever-growing curiosity that the field of medicine encompassed. She’s majoring in molecular biology at Boise State University.

The Dream Award selection committee is headed by Dr. Martha Kanter, Ed.D., CEO of College Promise and a senior fellow at the Steinhardt Institute for Higher Education Policy at New York University. Other committee members: David Croom, Associate Director, Postsecondary Success for Parents, Ascend—Aspen Institute; Gabriella “Gabby” Gomez, Deputy Director of U.S. Policy, Advocacy and Communications, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Kristin Hultquist, renowned national education expert and founding partner of HCM Strategists; Jim Larimore, Chief Officer for Equity in Learning, Riiid Labs; and Paola Santana, State Strategy Officer, Lumina Foundation.

About Scholarship America®

Scholarship America is a non-profit organization that helps students fulfill their college dreams. Since 1958, Scholarship America has distributed over $4.9 billion to more than 2.9 million students. The organization works with partners to lower barriers to a college education and give students the support needed to succeed.