Sallie Mae Awards $125,000 in Scholarships to Five Deserving High School Students

Sallie Mae’s Bridging the Dream Scholarship Recognizes High School Juniors and Seniors Who Excel Inside and Outside the Classroom but Need Financial Support to Make College Happen

Company’s Bridging the Dream Scholarship Team Traveled Coast to Coast to Surprise the Five Scholarship Winners

Thursday, December 7, 2017 12:22 pm EST



Public Company Information:

"We are proud to partner with schools and communities across the country to help students follow their dreams, fulfill their potential, and find the success that comes with higher education."

NEWARK, Del.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Five high school students from across the country are a lot closer to making college happen after winning a $25,000 Bridging the Dream Scholarship from Sallie Mae, the nation’s saving, planning, and paying for college company. The students learned they were winners in surprise reveals by Sallie Mae representatives who traveled to each winner’s hometown to share the news.

The recipients of the 2017 Bridging the Dream Scholarships are Kate Griffith of Pennsylvania, Damian Lee of South Carolina, Jobany Quiterio of Utah, Kylie Rapp of Indiana, and Peter Za of Oregon. They were selected after the company asked 30,000 high school counselors and community leaders to nominate inspiring high school juniors and seniors who excel in academics, athletics, community service, or school activities, but whose financial circumstances may not permit them to fulfill their college dreams.

Kate Griffith, 17, is a senior at Central Cambria High School in Ebensburg, Pennsylvania. She maintains an exemplary academic record while juggling multiple extracurricular activities, volunteering at her church, and working part time. A percussionist, she was rehearsing with the Cambria County All County Band when the Sallie Mae team interrupted with flowers, balloons, and a $25,000 check. She plans to major in film and marketing, and she’s currently looking at colleges in western Pennsylvania.

Damian Lee, 17, is a senior at Lake City High School in Lake City, South Carolina. He maintains a 4.3 GPA, is president of the school’s gospel choir, is a member of ROTC, and performs with Dramatic Coffee Beans, Inc. He was performing a skit with the drama club when Sallie Mae and local officials surprised him with the scholarship news — and Lake City Mayor Lovith Anderson presented him with a key to the city. Damian has applied for early enrollment at George Washington University.

Jobany Quiterio, 18, is a senior at Taylorsville High School in Salt Lake City. He has a 3.8 GPA, is student body president, and is active in Latinos in Action, a service-based leadership class in which he tutors other students and translates for parent-teacher conferences. The Sallie Mae team, school officials, and his mother entered the room during one of those classes, and that’s when Jobany found out he was a scholarship winner. He plans to pursue a business degree at the University of Utah.

Kylie Rapp, 16, is a junior at Clinton Prairie Junior-Senior High School in Frankfort, Indiana, where she is an advanced placement student with a 3.76 GPA. In addition to being captain of her volleyball team and mentoring younger students, Kylie is president of the Clinton County 4-H Lama Club, whose members show and care for llamas and alpacas — and it was at a club meeting, during a llama obstacle course exercise, that Sallie Mae surprised her with the scholarship. Kylie plans to study elementary education in college.

Peter Za, 18, is a senior at Cleveland High School in Portland, Oregon, where he maintains a 4.0 GPA while taking the most rigorous academic path available and finding time to play varsity soccer, tutor students in math, and drum at his church’s worship services. Peter spent much of his childhood in a Thai refugee camp before coming to the U.S. Today he is fluent in three languages, he’s learning three more, and he devotes a considerable amount of time to helping others in the homework club at the apartment complex where he lives, which is where the Sallie Mae team surprised him with a pizza party and the scholarship check.

“It has been immensely rewarding to get to know our 2017 Bridging the Dream Scholarship recipients, each of whom has encountered and overcome obstacles, and we look forward to seeing how a college education helps them build on the impressive achievements they’ve already contributed to their respective families, schools, and communities,” said Martha Holler, senior vice president, Sallie Mae. “We are proud to partner with schools and communities across the country to help students follow their dreams, fulfill their potential, and find the success that comes with higher education.”

Now in its second year, Sallie Mae’s Bridging the Dream Scholarship program is part of the company’s continued commitment to helping students and families reach college. In addition to company contributions, Sallie Mae employees raised nearly $60,000 to support the scholarship program.

To learn more about the 2017 Bridging the Dream Scholarship recipients, visit, or join the conversation by using #BridgingTheDream.

For more information about saving, planning, and paying for college, visit

Sallie Mae (Nasdaq: SLM) is the nation’s saving, planning, and paying for college company. Whether college is a long way off or just around the corner, Sallie Mae offers products that promote responsible personal finance, including private education loans, Upromise rewards, scholarship search, college financial planning tools, and online retail banking. Learn more at Commonly known as Sallie Mae, SLM Corporation and its subsidiaries are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.


Sallie Mae
Ellen J. Roberts, 302-451-0428