A North Carolina teenager was accepted into 17 colleges and earned more than half a million dollars in scholarship money after overcoming a family tragedy.
Saniya Lyles, who attended Middle College at Bennett in Greensboro, shared her excitement with CBS affiliate WFMY.
“I’m super excited,” Lyles told the news outlet. “I’m a tiny bit nervous, now that, I guess, I’m preparing for college [and] that my experience at high school is wrapping up.”
While Lyles is thrilled about this milestone, she expressed to WFMY how bittersweet the moment is after she lost her mother to a heart attack less than a year ago.
“So, it was just one of those things, you know,” she told the outlet. “I was happy, but still in the back of my mind, I’m like wow, I wish she could be here to see me do this and see me doing good.”
Despite the challenging circumstances, Lyles dedicated herself to her studies and kept a 4.5 GPA while also completing her fifth college-credit course.
“If anything, you know, I just use it as encouragement,” Lyles told the outlet. “Everything I did before, I told myself I must do 10 times more, to make her proud.”
And doing 10 times more led Lyles to a lengthy list of acceptance letters. She graduated from Middle College at Bennett on Wednesday, according to WFMY.
The Middle College at Bennett is one of only two all-female high schools in North Carolina and is associated with Bennett College, the all-female HBCU. The school offers dual enrollment, where high school students can take college classes as they earn their high school diploma.
Their mission statement reads, ”We expect our young ladies to be leaders and follow in the footsteps of greatness! Our mission is to provide a nurturing highly personalized educational environment on a college campus where female high school students can maximize their academic and leadership potential graduating prepared for college and/or the workforce.”
While the school has a history of paving the way, Lyles is creating new footsteps for others like her to follow in. She is headed to Fayetteville State University this fall to pursue crime scene investigation with aspirations of eventually joining the military, per WFMY.
“My goal in life is just to make an impact and even after I pass you know,” Lyles told the outlet. “I just want to leave the world better than when I came in.”
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