National Dreams to Success Awards Celebration Honors Outstanding Students and Scholarship Programs

Mike Rowe addresses the crowd at the National Dreams to Success Awards

Washington, DC (May 25, 2017)—Scholarship America, the nation’s largest nonprofit, private-sector scholarship and education support organization, celebrated individuals and organizations who have made a significant impact helping students achieve their educational dreams at its third annual Dreams to Success Awards Dinner May 24. The event was held at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Rodney O. Martin, chairman and CEO of Voya Financial, the presenting sponsor for the Dreams to Success Awards Dinner, announced the inaugural cohort of Voya Scholars.  The new Voya Scholars program combines scholarships for undergraduate students studying business and finance with mentoring, networking, interviewing, resume preparation and internships with Voya Financial employees.

“At Voya, we know that education and financial literacy are vital to a fulfilling life — to and through retirement,” said Rodney O. Martin, Jr., chairman and CEO of Voya Financial.  “We are proud to partner with Scholarship America, who shares our commitment to educating and empowering young people so that they take control of their future.  We are thrilled to join in celebrating the 2017 Dreams to Success award recipients — and to honor the extraordinary individuals and organizations who have contributed to their success.”

Martin and award-winning journalist and TV personality Katie Couric served as honorary co-chairs for the Dream to Success dinner.   Decorated Army combat veteran, author, CEO of BridgeEdU and soon-to-be chief executive of Robin Hood, Wes Moore, served as master of ceremonies.

[Watch our YouTube playlist of the evening’s videos here]

Scholarship America recognized three outstanding scholarship programs:  the mikeroweWORKS Foundation; Wells Fargo’s Veteran Scholarship and Emergency Grant Program and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

The mikeroweWORKS Foundation works hard to debunk myths about the skilled trades and help close the skills gap.  Through its scholarship programs, including the Work Ethic Scholarship Program, the Foundation provides financial assistance to people getting trained for skilled jobs that are in demand.  The Foundation has granted, or facilitated the granting of, more than $4 million in technical and vocational education to trade schools across the country.

Michelle Ahola and Eric Kovacevich, students who’ve received scholarships through mikeroweWORKS Foundation, presented the award to Mike Rowe.  As CEO of the Foundation, Mike Rowe speaks regularly about the country’s dysfunctional relationship with work and challenges the persistent belief that a four-year degree is automatically the best path for most people.    Ahola studied concrete industry management and Kovacevich is a manufacturing engineering technology student.

Wells Fargo’s Veteran Scholarship and Emergency Grant program was recognized for its needs-based scholarships and grants that help veterans and spouses of veterans with disabilities obtain education or training to successfully integrate back into civilian life. Scholarship recipient and veteran Amare Lovely, a student at the University of San Diego, and former scholarship recipient Catherine Gonzalez, who now works at Wells Fargo, presented the award to Jerry Quinn, Wells Fargo’s Military & Veteran Programs Manager.  Since 2012, Wells Fargo has committed more than $75 million to helping military service members, veterans and their families succeed through career transition, financial education and housing initiatives.

Founded in 1932 to promote the agriculture industry, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo has committed more than $430 million to the youth of Texas and presented nearly 17,000 new and renewable scholarships since the first scholarship was awarded in 1957. Currently more than 2,400 students are on Show scholarships, attending more than 80 different Texas colleges and universities.  The value of these scholarships is approximately $47 million.   Sarah Brubaker, a NASA aerospace engineer and graduate of the University of Texas in Austin, and Rashard Harris, a civil engineering student at Texas A&M University, presented the award to Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s Jim Winne.  Winne, a native Texan, is the Chairman of the Board-Elect of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™.  Winne was elected a Show director in 2004, and a member of the Show’s Executive Committee in 2014.

Martha Kanter, executive director of the College Promise Campaign, and chair of Scholarship America’s Dream Awards Committee, announced 2017 Dream Award recipients.  The Scholarship America Dream Award is a unique national program intended to spotlight the gap between college access and completion and the need for students to get through their postsecondary educations and complete their degrees. The awards support students who have successfully completed their first year of college, but who need financial help to continue pursuing their degrees.

The 2017 Dream Award recipients are:   Umesh Bhandari, University of Texas at Arlington; Mikayla Bridgewater, Missouri University of Science & Technology; Yessenia Cantero Hernandez, Northern Kentucky University; April Lewis, Spelman College; Shun Lin, University of California – Berkeley; Arial Martinez, South Mountain Community College; Jorge Morales, San Francisco State University; Ezekiel Ogden, Northern Arizona University; Tiara Wills, Pratt Institute and Shanell Yenchik, Northern Arizona University.

Additional dinner highlights included recognition of the 15th anniversary of the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund, which has delivered more than $100 million in scholarships to students affected by the 9/11 attacks and the honoring the legacy of Scholarship America’s founder, Dr. Irving A. Fradkin, who passed away  in November, 2016.

Dreams to Success Dinner sponsors include:

Presenting Sponsor
Voya Financial

Magna Cum Laude Sponsor
Young Foundation

Scholar Sponsors
Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc.
Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates
Kirkland & Ellis, LLP
Rosemary and Michael Ryan

Diploma Sponsors
Americans for the Arts
BP America, Inc.
Barry Griswell/Performance Management Group
Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans
Kaplan University
Lumina Foundation
Murthy Law Firm
Raymond James Financial Services
World Journal

Student Sponsors
Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP
BP America, Inc.
Jane Chwick
Ruth Ann M. Gillis and Michael J. McGuinnis
Herman Miller Cares (2)
The Principal Financial Group (2)

Hosted Tables
Robert C. Ballard
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Martha Kanter
Douglas J. Mello
J. Stephen and Joan Putnam
Mim Schreck
Structured Finance Industry Group
Philip J. and Irmy Webster
Wells Fargo
Yale New Haven Health

“We are very grateful to these generous sponsors, as well as to all who hosted tables or made donations,” said Robert C. Ballard, president and CEO of Scholarship America. “In the end, it is all about the students. Education changes lives and we are committed to making postsecondary success possible for all students.  We are honored these individuals and organizations share and support this vision too.”

Learn more about Scholarship America and see videos and photos from the Dreams to Success Awards Dinner at


Pam Carlson

About Scholarship America
For nearly 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 $3.7 billion to more than 2.3 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.

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