Scholarship America Presents Honors; Recognizes Dream Award Scholarship Students at National Education Dinner

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 fourth annual Dreams to Success Awards Dinner May 22. The event was held at the JW Marriott in Washington, D.C. and attended by 400 leaders in education, government, business and philanthropy. Vocalist Jearlyn Steele served as master of ceremonies and performed with The MusicianShip Washington Youth Choir. 

Scholarship America Honors were presented to The GE Foundation; Genentech Futurelab and Senator George J. Mitchell.

Through its signature education and skills initiatives, Developing Futures™ and Developing Skills™, The GE Foundation empowers 14 to 24-year-old students by providing access to learning experiences necessary for the workforce of tomorrow. As part of its Developing Skills initiatives, the GE Foundation developed the GE Brilliant Career Lab in Boston, the first of a kind interactive experience and mobile lab that combines experiential learning with career readiness planning in high demand STEM fields.

In addition, the GE-Reagan Foundation Scholarship Program and new GE-JFK Library Scholarship Program reward college-bound students who demonstrate exemplary leadership, drive, integrity and citizenship. The GE-Reagan Foundation Scholarship Program honors the legacy of our nation’s 40th President and annually awards 20 students scholarships of $40,000 each. Since 2011, $6.28 million has been awarded to 157 GE-Reagan Foundation Scholars. The new GE-JFK Library Foundation Scholarship Program assists Boston high school seniors planning to pursue STEM majors in college. In 2018, the GE-JFK Library Foundation Scholarship Program will award $2,500 scholarships to 35 Boston Public Schools seniors.

Two GE Brilliant Career Lab students – Jhonaikel Soto Ruiz, Community Academy of Science and Health, and Daylon Barros, Jeremiah E. Burke High School – presented the Scholarship America Honors to Kelli Wells, executive director, education and skills at the GE Foundation.

Genentech’s award-winning Futurelab Program is a hyperlocal STEM education initiative that supports more than 9,000 K-12 students in the South San Francisco Unified School District.  Futurelab gets students excited to learn about science, improves college readiness and inspires careers in STEM fields.  Futurelab is powered by Genentech employees who mentor, coach and advise South San Francisco (SSF) students, with more than 1,500 employees volunteering time, talent and passion each year.

Since 2014, Genentech has invested more than $23 million in support of South San Francisco schools via its Futurelab programs including Gene Academy, an after-school mentoring program for elementary school students; Helix Cup, an eighth grade science competition that builds communication and problem-solving skills; and Science Garage, a four-year, hands-on biotech curriculum open to all SSF high school students.  Futurelab Scholarships motivate students to dream big and include awards of up to $200,000 over four years to two exceptional seniors each year, as well as eight smaller one-time awards.

Two Futurelab scholars, Alma Navarro, a biomedical engineering major at California Polytechnic State University and Diana Flores, a computer science major at the University of California Santa Cruz, presented Scholarship Honors to Kristin Campbell Reed, director of employee and corporate giving, Genentech.

Senator George J. Mitchell received a Lifetime Achievement Award. Senator Mitchell is well known for a career of community service as U.S. Attorney, U.S. District Court Judge, U.S. Senator, Senate Majority Leader, chairman of peace negotiations in Northern Ireland and as special envoy for the Middle East. What may be less well known is his passion for education. Senator Mitchell is the son of immigrants who understood the power of education. With scholarships and financial aid, Senator Mitchell was able to go to college, and he is determined that other students have the same opportunity. He spoke at graduation ceremonies at every Maine high school at least once while in the U.S. Senate, and after leaving the Senate, established the Mitchell Scholarship Program to increase educational opportunity for Maine students. A foundation grant in 1999 enabled him to establish the Mitchell Institute, adding career and personal programs for Mitchell Scholars and a research component.

Since 1995, The George J. Mitchell Scholarship Institute has awarded more than 2,500 scholarships totaling over $14.5 million to students from each of Maine’s 134 public high schools. An impressive 85 percent of Mitchell Scholars achieve a degree, compared with 55 percent of students nationally.

Two Mitchell Scholars – Kylie Dunphy, an environmental policy and planning major at the University of Maine at Farmington, and Jesse Hall, an applied exercise science major at the University of New England – presented the Scholarship America Honors Lifetime Achievement Award to Senator Mitchell.

Yessenia Cantero Hernandez, a nursing major at Northern Kentucky University, told her story and spoke on behalf of all  2017 and 2018 Scholarship America Dream Award Recipients. The Dream Award is a renewable scholarship program for students with financial need who have overcome barriers and successfully started their college education. To date, 54 students have received Dream Award scholarships, totaling over $1 million.

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, Prince George’s Community College and Shanell Yenchik, Northern Arizona University.

2018 Dream Award recipients include: Jacoby Barry, Mercer University; Denis Cruz, Texas A&M University-Commerce; Yifan He, Dartmouth College; Chantel Lewis-Cummings, University of Georgia: Jaquaious Little, University of Alabama; Jamisen Moore, Unviersity of North Carolina at Greensboro; Miguel Aguirre Morales, Wabash College; Rachel Muir, Northwestern University; Cynthia Namaswa, University of St. Joseph; Christian Urrea, University of Houston; Jacqueline Vela, East Los Angeles College; and Donja Wilkinson, Georgia State University.

Rodney O. Martin, Jr, chairman and CEO of Voya Financial served as honorary Dreams to Success chair. Voya Financial was the event’s presenting sponsor.

“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 and honorary dinner chair. “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 and 2018 Dreams to Success award recipients — and to honor the extraordinary individuals and organizations who have contributed to their success.”

Additional Dreams to Success Dinner sponsors include:

Magna cum Laude Sponsor

  • Young Foundation

Scholar Sponsors

  • Kirkland & Ellis, LLP
  • Rodney & Deborah Martin Family Fund
  • Michael and Rosemary Ryan
  •  Travelers

Diploma Sponsors

  • Alex.Brown, a division of Raymond James
  • Americans for the Arts
  • Barry Griswell/Performance Management Group
  • Chick-fil-A
  • Deutsche Bank
  • Herman Miller Cares
  • Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans
  • JP Morgan
  • Kaplan Higher & Professional Education
  • The Lana & Alain Karaoglan Family Fund
  • Lumina Foundation
  • Murthy Law Firm
  • Principal Financial Group
  • Kevin Silva
  • The World Journal

“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 students. Since 1958, Scholarship America has built programs and partnerships that have distributed over $3.9 billion and helped over 2.4 million students. We are committed to ensuring any student pursuing higher education has the support needed to achieve success. 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


About Scholarship America
Scholarship America invests in student success.  For 60 years, Scholarship America has worked to ensure any student pursuing higher education receives the support they need to succeed.  Scholarship America’s programs, policies and insights advance equity, deliver outcomes and enable student success.  Since 1958, Scholarship America has distributed over $3.9 billion to more than 2.4 million students.  More information is available at or by following @scholamerica.

Pam Carlson

Posted in Scholarship America Media Releases, The Latest.