Columbia College student awarded scholarship on national TV - - Columbia, South Carolina

Columbia College student awarded scholarship on national TV

Emelin Garcia Nieto Emelin Garcia Nieto
Emelin Garcia on Katie Emelin Garcia on Katie
Emelin's application video Emelin's application video

A student at Columbia College now can afford to go to medical school. Emelin Garcia Nieto is a recipient of the first-ever Dream Scholarship Awards.

She was presented with the scholarship last week from Katie Couric during the Katiee show. Garcia-Nieto was one of 12 finalists invited to the show, who were told only one scholarship would be awarded. But Katie and Scholarship America surprised the finalists and announced all 12 of them would be awarded the scholarship.

"I immediately just gasped and tears started flowing down my face because I couldn't believe it," said Garcia Nieto. "The whole time, we were being prepared and being told that one of us was going to be the lucky winner."

Even if she hadn't won, Garcia Nieto said all of the finalists were deserving.

"I knew that whoever of us won was going to deserve it," she said.

The scholarship will help Garcia Nieto pay for her senior year at Columbia College, then medical school.

"The scholarship will help me finish my last year in college, which would be this coming year. I would be able to focus on getting into medical school and not worry about working so much to pay off my school."

Garcia Nieto plans to be a pediatrician. This summer, she earned a prestigious internship at Loyola University Medical School in Chicago. That's where she hopes to go to medical school.

"It meant a lot to me. I think it meant that all of my hard work has paid off. Being a finalist out of 3,000 applicants, that's significant. And knowing that all of my studies and all of my parents' hard work to put me through school to finish my education was paying off."

"It definitely has been a struggle to go to college," she said. "Both of my parents didn't make it past high school because they couldn't afford it."

But her parents taught her the value of her education and the rewards of hard work. She's had to work several jobs to pay for college.

"They have always said 'When you accomplish your dreams, we'll accomplish our dreams,'" she said.

Garcia Nieto passes along that encouragement to everyone.

"If you really want something and you have dreams, go for them," she said. "Don't let simple things or even big things stop you because if you persevere through it, you can do it."

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