Maryann Benny Fernandes, 24 – FUNDED

Maryann Benny Fernandes is a first-generation college student coming from a low-income background, which makes her all the more proud of her acceptance into Stanford University as a full-time master’s student in electrical engineering — and grateful to be a 1,000 Dreams Fund Scholarship recipient. She describes her feelings as “out-of-this world” because her dream that once seemed impossible has now become a possibility through hard work, patience, and perseverance. “I am humbled that my long-desired childhood milestone will soon be a reality,” she says.

What is your professional dream?

My dream is to be a scientist in the field of space technology. Apart from this, I would also like to use my time to help the medical community tackle cancer.

How will you use the 1,000 Dreams Scholarship?

I will use the scholarship to pay for my tuition fees, so that I can concentrate on my education and worry less about how to pay for school.

How is this scholarship helping you get closer to your dream?

This scholarship has brought my goals and aspirations a little closer, compared to what I visualized due to financial obstacles. I will be pursuing my education on a very heavy student loan. The burden I once used to carry has decreased for both me and my family who have invested everything just to see me get the best education I can. I am eagerly looking forward to making them proud.

What advice do you have for other young women who are wanting to pursue their dreams?

First, I would like you to ponder this quote by St. Ignatius Loyola: “Go forth and set the world on fire.”

If you have felt empowered to make your dreams a reality, I stand here with you. There will always be people who will bring you down because they never took the risk to get out of their shell and hit the narrow road.

So, never ever give up! Never ever listen to anyone when they tell you that you are not good enough. Remember: They do not know the real you. It will always be you alone. You will always be the one who knows yourself the best!!! Just go out and pursue your dreams; take the narrow road, if needed, because you are the author of your story. You were born to be a champion, so what are you waiting for?! 🙂

​Have you had any setbacks? How did you move past them?

Before applying to grad school, which was a dream during the last three years of my undergrad career, I had a very tough time with questioning and doubting myself.

Between getting bullied for my thoughts and opinions, my dad being diagnosed with Critical Kidney Disease, and my family not being able to afford grad school, I felt that my dream was crashing and that I would never be able to achieve it.

However, to distract myself, I began participating in multiple activities that interested me and I began to gain self-confidence. It enabled me to pursue my dreams with a mindset that everything has its own time and that I am my own storyteller; no one else can write my story as perfectly as I can.

What’s next for you? What is your next goal?

I want to make the best use of my time at Stanford by interacting with accomplished peers in academic, professional, and social settings — and I want to make a positive impact.