Damian Lee, a senior at Lake City High School, was awarded a $25,000 Bridging the Dream Scholarship from Sallie Mae, the nation's saving, planning, and paying for college company, and was presented a key to Lake City from Mayor Lovith Anderson at a surprise reveal event held at the Lake City Senior Center. Mayor Anderson and representatives from Sallie Mae were joined by local, state, school, and community officials, Lake City High School teachers and students, and Mychal Wynn, founder and CEO of the Foundation for Ensuring Access and Equity, who nominated Lee for the scholarship.

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Damian Lee, a senior at Lake City High School in Lake City, South Carolina, celebrates winning a $25 ...

Damian Lee, a senior at Lake City High School in Lake City, South Carolina, celebrates winning a $25,000 Bridging the Dream Scholarship from Sallie Mae. (Photo: Business Wire)

"Education, and in particular, higher education, provides endless opportunities for our young people," said Mayor Anderson. "Damian is one of Lake City's best and brightest. The sky is truly the limit, and this scholarship will help him reach college and continue to make Lake City proud. I'm honored to present him with a key to our great city."

Lee, 17, is ranked at the top of his class, and is a member of ROTC. He also serves as the president of Lake City High School's Ensemble and Gospel Choir and the Tri-M Music Honor Society. Lee is an active figure in Lake City, with strong relationships extending from student organizations to local government and the faith community. He is also a member of Dramatic Coffee Beans, Inc., an interactive drama club formed as a way for teenagers to discuss issues in their community. Lee was surprised with the scholarship after performing with the group.

"Damian has worked incredibly hard, is extremely dedicated to his school and community, and is a true leader," said Wynn. "I know that with this scholarship he will continue to build on his success and inspire others."

"I'm surprised and overwhelmed by the support of so many people here today," said Lee. "This is a life-changing moment for me and my family. I am so grateful to Mr. Wynn for nominating me for this scholarship and to Sallie Mae for helping me pay for college."

Sallie Mae's Bridging the Dream Scholarship recognizes inspiring high school juniors and seniors nationwide who excel in academics, athletics, community service, or school activities, but whose financial circumstances may not permit them to fulfill their college dreams. This year, Sallie Mae will award $25,000 Bridging the Dream Scholarships to five recipients selected from nominations submitted by high school counselors and community leaders from across the U.S.

This is the second year of Sallie Mae's Bridging the Dream Scholarship Program. In addition to company contributions, Sallie Mae employees organized a host of fundraising events, raising more than $57,000 to support the scholarship recipients.

"The Bridging the Dream Scholarship exemplifies, in name and intent, what Sallie Mae is all about, and we are proud to be a part of a community of elected officials like Mayor Anderson, community leaders like Mychal Wynn, and school counselors, teachers, administrators, and others who want to help young people reach their potential," said Martha Holler, senior vice president, Sallie Mae. "Damian has shown strength, determination, and leadership, and we are so excited to help him take the next step in his education."

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

For more information about saving, planning, and paying for college, visit SallieMae.com.

Sallie Mae (Nasdaq: SLM) is the nation's saving, planning, and paying for college company. Whether college is a long way off or just around the corner, Sallie Mae offers products that promote responsible personal finance, including private education loans, Upromise rewards, scholarship search, college financial planning tools, and online retail banking. Learn more at SallieMae.com. 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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