[caption id="attachment_18205" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Recipients, from left: Kendal Cooney, 17, of Camden, Mich., Bryana Blanco, 18, of Pembroke Pines, Fla., Quinton Lopez, 17, of Canoga Park, Calif., and Kayla Pinzur, 17, of Brewster, N.Y.[/caption]
Four high school students from across the country traveled to Newark, as finalists for a new scholarship from Sallie Mae. They all ended up walking away with $25,000 as recipients of the company's inaugural Bridging the Dream Scholarship. Sallie Mae Chairman and CEO Raymond J. Quinlan made the surprise announcement at a ceremony in front of the students' families, friends, supporters, and more than 500 Sallie Mae employees, who played an integral role in making the dream of college a reality for these deserving students.
The recipients were selected after the company asked 20,000 high school counselors from around the country to nominate students who exemplify excellence both inside and outside the classroom, have overcome obstacles, and have a desire and dedication to make college happen.
Earlier this year, Sallie Mae employees around the country were introduced to the finalists' personal stories and circumstances and - inspired by what they learned about each deserving student - organized a host of fund-raising events to support the scholarship. In just three months, Sallie Mae employees raised $50,661, which was supplemented by the company to reach a grand total of $100,000 for the Bridging the Dream Scholarship.
"Our mission is to make the dream of higher education a reality, and - as you might conclude from the extraordinary involvement of our employees in making this scholarship a reality - all of us at Sallie Mae are deeply committed to helping students and their families reach their potential," said Raymond J. Quinlan, chairman and CEO, Sallie Mae.