Salt Lake City Student Surprised With $25,000 Scholarship From Sallie Mae

West High School Student Receives One of Nine Bridging the Dream Scholarships

Scholarship Recognizes High School Juniors and Seniors Nationwide Who Excel Inside and Outside of the Classroom

Wednesday, December 18, 2019 11:13 am EST



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"Our world is full of aspiring minds, looking to create opportunities to better their communities"

NEWARK, Del.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Niyera Nyandagaro, a senior at West High School in Salt Lake City, was surprised with a $25,000 Bridging the Dream Scholarship from Sallie Mae. Niyera is one of nine scholarship recipients nationwide.

Bridging the Dream Scholarship nominations were submitted by school counselors, teachers, and community leaders to recognize high school juniors and seniors who excel in academics, athletics, community service, or school activities but may face personal or financial challenges when looking to fulfill their college dreams. Niyera was nominated by her high school counselor, Aaron Leeflang.

“Niyera has the ability to lead and inspire her generation, and ours,” said Leeflang. “Striving to make her community a better place, Niyera lives by the motto that continuation is power, and recognizes that resiliency and inquisitiveness will power her through college and into a career where she can give back.”

A first-generation African refugee, Niyera has endured hardship but still manages to excel in school and thrive in her community. Taking on advanced placement classes and maintaining an excellent GPA, Niyera is building her foundation for a medical career. Niyera volunteers at two local hospitals to help direct, transport, and read to patients. She aspires to go to medical school and plans to form her own nonprofit to provide medical care to local refugees.

“Our world is full of aspiring minds, looking to create opportunities to better their communities,” said Shawn Murphy, director, Sallie Mae. “There is no better example of that than Niyera. She’s demonstrated an ability to turn hardship into hope. We’re honored to be a part of her journey, equipping her with the resources she’ll need to make her dreams a reality, and we can’t wait to see what comes next.”

Since 2016, Sallie Mae has awarded $560,000 in scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students through the Bridging the Dream Scholarship Program. This year, $225,000 will be awarded, including $40,000 raised directly by employees.

For more information about Sallie Mae’s Bridging the Dream Scholarships, visit, or join the conversation by using #BridgingTheDream.

Sallie Mae (Nasdaq: SLM) believes education and life-long learning, in all forms, help people achieve great things. As the leader in private student lending, we provide financing and know-how to help make college happen and offer products and resources to help customers make new goals and experiences, beyond college, possible. 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.

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Ashley Boucher