Student Loan Hero is thrilled to announce the six winners of our scholarship for the spring 2019 semester.
After carefully reviewing hundreds of essay submissions, our team of experts selected six students for the award. We’re excited to give a scholarship of $5,000 to the two grand prize winners and $2,000 to four runner-ups to assist with their educational expenses.
All these winners have inspired us with their ability to overcome adversity and commitment to pursuing their dreams. We hope the awards will help these hard-working students earn their degrees and achieve their professional goals.
Here are the incredible stories of the six winners of the Spring 2019 Student Loan Hero scholarship awards.
Lisa Covell, Chamberlain University
Grand prize: $5,000
As a single mother of two, Lisa always had a desire to go back to school, but she had to wait until the timing was right. Now that it is, she’s starting an accelerated program to become a family nurse practitioner.
She’s also finding time in her busy schedule to complete a Registered Nurse First Assist program, where she will hone her skills in suturing, incisions and assisting with surgeries, all of which will help in her current position as head of spine surgery as an registered nurse in the operating room.
When she’s not saving lives, studying or setting an inspiring example for her two kids, Lisa enjoys DIY projects, reading and yoga. Having recently moved from upstate New York, Lisa is also enjoying exploring her new South Carolina surroundings with her children and two dogs.
Sailesh Dahal, Knox College
Grand prize: $5,000
Sailesh Dahal was born and raised in a refugee camp in the east of Nepal, where he lived for the first 10 years of his life. With the help of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration, Sailesh and his family immigrated to the U.S. in 2008.
Although Sailesh and his family were excited to start a new life in America, his parents struggled to earn enough money due to their limited education and English language skills. After years of hard work, they were able to buy a house in a neighborhood with good schools.
Sailesh graduated high school with honors and now studies computer science and engineering at Knox College with a minor in creative writing. Given his experience growing up in a refugee camp, he plans to use his engineering degree to help people in developing regions around the world.
Sarina Ochoa, University of New Mexico
Runner-up prize: $2,000
Growing up as one of three children with a single mother, Sarina learned the value of hard work at an early age. Although she had her reservations about attending college after high school, she’s eternally grateful to her mother for pressuring her to go.
Sarina ended up at a small liberal arts college in Appleton, Wis., with a population of just 1,200 students. On this close-knit campus, Sarina made lifelong friends and earned her bachelor’s in psychology.
Since graduating, she has worked as a lab technician and in other roles in the University of New Mexico’s (UNM) biology department. Surrounded by academia, Sarina felt the pull to return to school herself.
She enrolled at UNM in the fall of 2018 and is currently pursuing her master’s in business administration.
Morgan Dobbins, Florida State University
Runner-up prize: $2,000
From watching her mother struggle with debt, Morgan Dobbins learned the importance of mastering finances. Instead of watching the $50,000 in student loans she borrowed to attend her dream school, UCLA, accumulate interest, Morgan got to work right away to earn money.
She found a job as a full-time social media manager, while also turning her passion for communication into a freelance social media business. Morgan also somehow found the time to do freelance videography work and to be a hostess part time.
Instead of taking on more debt to afford UCLA as an out-of-state student, Morgan chose a more affordable alternative — earning her associate degree at a local community college. Now, she’s finishing up the requirements for her bachelor’s at Florida State University, where she majors in English, Editing, Writing & Media and Media/Communication Studies.
Morgan continues to do freelance marketing and works on campus as a social media coordinator. Thanks to all her efforts, she has already paid off more than $20,000 in student loans while saving for future goals, including retirement, travel and a house.
Janet Foster, The New School
Runner-up prize: $2,000
Having experienced personal and financial hardships growing up, followed by a life-changing injury, Janet Foster is inspired to assist those in need. As an English language teacher, she helps adult immigrants and refugees learn English so they can adjust and flourish in the U.S.
To improve her teaching skills, Janet is working toward her master’s degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). Not only will her TESOL degree hone Janet’s skills in the classroom, but it will also open the door to teaching positions at four-year colleges and international language institutions.
Janet is inspired everyday by the kindness, graciousness and impressive work ethic of her students, and she’s excited to continue to serve them as the best English teacher she can be.
Melody Eng, Knox College
Runner-up prize: $2,000
Melody Eng is in her junior year at Knox College, where she studies business and marketing so she can work for a cosmetics company after graduating.
As a Chinese-American born and raised in the heart of Chicago’s Chinatown, Melody has worked hard to balance her Western identity with her Eastern heritage. She both pursues her passion for fashion and design while studying Chinese languages, calligraphy, watercolor and traditional fan dances.
These days, Melody is applying for internships to get her foot in the door of the business world and creating software that enables user-based interactions with documents. As Melody explained, “I always aim high and don’t let any negativity set me back from achieving my full potential.”
Get ready to apply for the Fall 2019 Scholarship
Our sincere congratulations to the six winners of our Spring 2019 Scholarship awards! We wish them all the best in their future endeavors and are confident they will find success.
If you’re a current or soon-to-be college student, we invite you to apply for our fall 2019 scholarship contest. The application will open on Feb. 11, 2019, and we’ll be accepting submissions until April 12, 2019. Winners will be notified on May 24.
As part of the application, we ask you to write a thoughtful essay in response to this prompt: What financial challenges have you overcome growing up? How have they shaped your goals and career aspirations?
Get ready to share your unique story, and in the meantime, keep applying to other scholarships and grants to earn free money for college.
Need a student loan?Here are our top student loan lenders of 2019!
|1 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.
2 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 1/1/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
3 Important Disclosures for Discover.
* 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 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. ©2019 SunTrust Banks, Inc. SUNTRUST, the SunTrust logo and Custom Choice Loan are trademarks of SunTrust Banks, Inc. All rights reserved.
6 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Additional terms and conditions apply. For more details see LendKey
7 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.
8 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|4.25% – 13.25%1||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.07% – 12.78%2||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.84% – 13.49%3||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.62% – 11.47%*,4||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.38% – 13.38%5||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|5.85% – 6.99%6||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|3.95% – 9.81%7||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.48% – 12.35%8||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|