Briany Santos-VillalobosBriany Santos-Villalobos

Recipient of the Levine Scholarship

Briany Santos-Villalobos has faced much uncertainty in life. The summer before her senior year of high school, her grandmother was diagnosed with stage four stomach cancer. As the oldest child, Briany's father selflessly dipped into their savings to help cover medical costs, threatening Briany's college plans.

"Higher education no longer seemed like a plausible dream, so I kind of abandoned it," Briany said. "My counselor didn't want me to give up so easily and advised me to attend Central Piedmont Community College since I had already taken courses as a Career and College Promise student. I took her advice, applied for the Presidential Scholars Program to offset costs, and I received a Levine Scholarship."

After becoming a student, Briany was accepted into the NC Scholars of Global Distinction. Then Coordinator Teresa Hall asked Briany if she was interested in studying abroad. Her immediate answer was yes, but the uncertainty of covering the cost resurfaced. "While looking over the programs, Ms. Julie Grahl encouraged me to apply for the prestigious Gilman Scholarship through the U.S. Department of State," she said. Briany applied, received the scholarship, and is set to study abroad in Peru this summer a perfect opportunity for this aspiring doctor.

"I am looking forward to the service-learning project," she said. "We will be helping kids going through chemotherapy, and I will be participating in a midwife program."

Whatever future opportunities arise for Briany, we are confident she will find a way to make it happen.