Student Loan Hero is excited to announce the six winners of our spring 2018 scholarship.
After reviewing hundreds of applications, our financial experts selected six amazing students who impressed us with their drive and commitment to their education.
Not only are these students determined to reach their goals, but they also demonstrated incredible resilience in overcoming challenging circumstances in their lives.
We sincerely hope these scholarships — $5,000 for two students and $2,000 for four students — will relieve some financial pressure as they work toward their degrees.
Here are the unforgettable stories of the six winners of the Student Loan Hero $5K Scholarship for spring 2018.
Amanda Boykin, University of Cincinnati
Main prize: $5,000
Having graduated from Wright State University with her Bachelor of Science in nursing, Amanda Boykin now studies at the University of Cincinnati to become a family nurse practitioner. She works in the neonatal intensive care unit and plans to use her degree to provide care for underprivileged and underserved communities.
Amanda grew up in an underprivileged community herself, and her family struggled with drug addiction, abuse, and poverty. She had to leave her home at the age of 13 and spent years bouncing from one unstable relative’s home to another. At one point, Amanda survived as a homeless teen before finally finding a long-term home.
Despite these hardships, Amanda became the first person in her family to attend college.
“As a child, college was never seen as an option for me,” explains Amanda. “I didn’t believe I was smart enough to obtain a degree. I now recognize the ecological and generational factors that influenced my mindset.”
Now, Amanda hopes to work with disadvantaged youth, particularly young women, to help them improve their circumstances.
“I hope to be able to show them that it is possible,” says Amanda. “We can ‘get out.’ They can overcome the sociological, socioeconomic, and ecological factors that they struggle with every day.”
Jiana Graham, Temple University
Main prize: $5,000
Jiana Graham is a freshman at Temple University studying global studies and sociology with a minor in Spanish. A child of immigrants from Jamaica, Jiana plans to use her degree to work with women and underserved populations in developing countries.
After immigrating from Jamaica, Jiana’s mother struggled as a single parent of five. Despite her financial struggles, she studied to become a nurse. Now, she manages to take the family back to Jamaica every year so they can see where she came from.
“Going back to Jamaica every year and seeing how radically different these two places are keeps me grounded and opens my eyes to how lucky I am to live in the United States,” says Jiana.
“I want to be prepared to make an impact in countries less fortunate than our own,” adds Jiana, pointing to countries such as India and Yemen, where societal norms can limit women’s freedom.
With her education in international relations and sociology, Jiana aspires to travel the world and empower women.
Mariia Anosova, Millersville University
Runner-up prize: $2,000
After struggling with hunger and poverty in post-Soviet Ukraine, Mariia Anosova came to the U.S. for an education and to help her family. She’s enrolled in a family nurse practitioner program at Millersville University, and she hopes to support her family and one day reunite with them on American soil.
After high school, Mariia jumped at the “miraculous chance” to come to the U.S. through Rotary International’s exchange program. “Coming to America meant not only an opportunity for a better education but also a chance to help my family,” says Mariia.
“Mostly, I chose to become a nurse because in America it meant a steady income, and in the Ukraine, income equals freedom of choice, a better education for my sister, sufficient food for cold winters, and a stable retirement for my parents,” explains Mariia.
After a childhood marked by struggle, Mariia is working hard to fulfill her dream of becoming a nurse practitioner and achieving financial stability for herself and her family.
David Beka Binyam, Miami University
Runner-up prize: $2,000
David Beka Binyam is a junior at Miami University majoring in geology with a minor in geographic information systems. Originally from Cameroon, David came to the U.S. through the diversity visa program, a lottery system that awards 55,000 immigrant visas per year.
Throughout his childhood, David struggled with poverty along with his five brothers and sisters. When he was just 13, he started selling grilled nuts on the street to earn money to pay his high school fees.
At 16, he took on construction jobs, which helped him make enough money to enroll at the University of Yaounde in the capital of Cameroon.
“Being successful in life via education has always been my main motivation,” says David.
He hopes getting his degree will provide financial stability for himself, his wife, and their infant son. He plans to use his scholarship to fund a five-week field camp training.
“The trip is quite expensive but fundamental for a geologist student and will allow me to deepen my knowledge, gain practical skills, and be competitive in the professional world,” explains David.
Olivia Janisse, Governors State University
Runner-up prize: $2,000
As a student pursuing her master’s degree in social work at Governors State University in Illinois, Olivia Janisse plans to work as an advocate for people with disabilities. She’s a student member of the National Association of Social Workers, and she works for a nonprofit that helps low-income people qualify for low-cost hearing assistive devices.
Olivia was drawn to this work after suffering profound hearing loss at the age of 11. Her parents had trouble paying for a hearing aid, but assistance programs deemed their income too high to qualify for aid.
She found herself in this gray area again when she went to college. She didn’t qualify for a lot of federal aid but was still struggling financially.
“I took out an incredible amount of private student loan debt not knowing the differences between fixed and variable loans, not knowing that there was no forgiveness of these loans and few opportunities for forbearance,” recalls Olivia.
Since borrowing all that money, Olivia has learned better ways to manage her student debt. She’s now able to educate others on how to pay for school, as well as how to afford the disability assistance they need.
“I feel that as a disability advocate and future social work practitioner, I will practice in a competent way because of the financial hardships I have experienced,” says Olivia. “I am a better person, and the community I have served will benefit.”
Nelson Ross, Wichita State University
Runner-up prize: $2,000
Nelson Ross is pursuing his master’s degree in public administration at Wichita State University. Nelson hopes to achieve a career in political science and international relations, particularly as a foreign service officer.
While he’s confident about his career path today, his journey getting there wasn’t easy.
“Paying bills was extremely stressful on my parents while raising my three sisters and me,” says Nelson. “That, combined with my father being left handicapped after multiple strokes and a heart attack, was a major cause of my parent’s divorce in my early teens.”
Nelson got through these hardships with the help of comic books and action figures his father would give him for Christmas and his birthday.
“As a child, and well into my adult life, my dreams have been characterized by comic book superheroes,” says Nelson. “I would protect the world from numerous disasters in all forms alongside the greatest characters of the comic book landscapes.”
Over the years, Nelson realized he wanted to be a force for good in the world, just like his superhero role models. “I want to imitate my fictional idols,” he says.
With his background in public administration, Nelson hopes to promote social justice throughout the world.
Get ready for Student Loan Hero’s fall 2018 scholarship
The spring 2018 scholarship winners have overcome major obstacles to get where they are today. We hope these scholarships will help them reach their goals and are confident they’ll continue to achieve great things.
If you’re a current or soon-to-be college or graduate school student, we invite you to apply for our fall 2018 scholarship contest. The application will be open from March 12 to May 11, and we will notify winners on June 8.
We’re looking forward to hearing your unique stories this spring. In the meantime, check out this guide to find even more opportunities for scholarships.
Need a student loan?Here are our top student loan lenders of 2018!
|1 Important Disclosures for CollegeAve.
College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or Nationwide Bank, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.
Information advertised valid as of 11/1/2018. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
2 Important Disclosures for Discover.
3 Important Disclosures for Ascent.
Before taking out private student loans, you should explore and compare all financial aid alternatives, including grants, scholarships, and federal student loans and consider your future monthly payments and income. Applying with a cosigner may improve your chance of getting approved and could help you qualify for a lower interest rate. Ascent Student Loans may be funded by Richland State Bank (RSB). Ascent Student Loan products are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application, verification of application information and certification of loan amount by a participating school. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions, and certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. Ascent is a federally registered trademark of Turnstile Capital Management (TCM) and may be used by RSB under limited license. Richland State Bank is a federally registered service mark of Richland State Bank.
* Application times vary depending on the applicants ability to supply the necessary information for submission.
* The Sallie Mae partner referenced is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Smart Option Student Loan customers.
4 = Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.
5 Important Disclosures for PNC.
PNC Bank is one of the nation’s largest education loan providers. For over 40 years, PNC has been committed to helping students and their families make possible the adventure of college.
6 Important Disclosures for SunTrust.
Before applying for a private student loan, SunTrust recommends comparing all financial aid alternatives including grants, scholarships, and both federal and private student loans. To view and compare the available features of SunTrust private student loans, visit https://www.suntrust.com/loans/student-loans/private.
Certain restrictions and limitations may apply. SunTrust Bank reserves the right to change or discontinue this loan program without notice. Availability of all loan programs is subject to approval under the SunTrust credit policy and other criteria and may not be available in certain jurisdictions.
SunTrust Bank, Member FDIC. ©2018 SunTrust Banks, Inc. SUNTRUST, the SunTrust logo and Custom Choice Loan are trademarks of SunTrust Banks, Inc. All rights reserved.
7 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Additional terms and conditions apply. For more details see LendKey
8 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
A government loan is made according to rules set by the U.S. Department of Education. Government loans have fixed interest rates, meaning that the interest rate on a government loan will never go up or down.
Government loans also permit borrowers in financial trouble to use certain options, such as income-based repayment, which may help some borrowers. Depending on the type of loan that you have, the government may discharge your loan if you die or become permanently disabled.
Depending on what type of government loan that you have, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness in exchange for performing certain types of public service. If you are an active-duty service member and you obtained your government loan before you were called to active duty, you are entitled to interest rate and repayment benefits for your loan.
A private student loan is not a government loan and is not regulated by the Department of Education. A private student loan is instead regulated like other consumer loans under both state and federal law and by the terms of the promissory note with your lender.
If your private student loan has a fixed interest rate, then that rate will never go up or down. If your private student loan has a variable interest rate, then that rate will vary depending on an index rate disclosed in your application. If the interest rate on the new private student loan is less than the interest rate on your government loans, your payments will be less if you refinance.
If you don’t pay a private student loan as agreed, the lender can refer your loan to a collection agency or sue you for the unpaid amount.
Remember also that like government loans, most private loans cannot be discharged if you file bankruptcy unless you can demonstrate that repayment of the loan would cause you an undue hardship. In most bankruptcy courts, proving undue hardship is very difficult for most borrowers.
9 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|3.94% – 12.78%1||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.04% – 13.04%3||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.34% – 12.99%2||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.25% – 11.10%*,4||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|5.03% – 11.23%5||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.12% – 13.13%6||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.92% – 10.01%7||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|3.72% – 9.68%8||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.26% – 12.13%9||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|