For DonorsFor Applicants

Cyrilla Olapeju Sanni Scholarship Fund

2 winners, $500 each
Application Deadline
Sep 12, 2024
Winners Announced
Oct 12, 2024
Education Level
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
Financial Status:
3.0 or higher
Migrant from Africa or the child of African migrants

Cyrilla Olapeju Sanni never had the opportunity to go to college but lived an industrious and productive life. 

Immigrants and the children of immigrants often face significant challenges, such as high cost of tuition, language barriers, lack of mentors, and difficulty accessing education.

This scholarship seeks to support African students who are struggling financially so they can fund their education and achieve all of their dreams.  

Any low-income African student with a 3.0 GPA or higher who migrated from Africa to the United States or is the child of a parent who migrated from Africa to the US may apply for this scholarship.

To apply, tell us about the biggest challenge your family has faced when moving to the United States and how that challenge has impacted you.

Selection Criteria:
Ambition, Need, Boldest Profile
Published February 26, 2024
Essay Topic

Please tell us about the greatest challenge your family faced when coming to the US and how that challenge has shaped who you are today?

400–600 words

Winners and Finalists

Winning Application

Fathia Arowona
Prince George's Community CollegeNew Carrollton, MD
At the age of fourteen and twelve, my sister and I had to come to the United States by ourselves from Nigeria. Mainly because our safety was threatened and also for a better future. I was separated from my family when I was eleven and taken to an orphanage home for motherless children. A man my mum has had a past with was claiming to be my sister and I, biological father. Nigeria has an unfair justice system, where the rich are the ones who get what they wanted and treated us like something worthless. I was molested and abused. I had no one to talk to, I had to be strong for my sister. Be her dad and her mom. I had to endure, and hope for a better future. My parents went through hell to get my sister and me out. We got out and it was more dangerous, we were receiving death threats from an anonymous person. We were being watched and it was exhausting. My parents decided to get us out of the country. They sold everything they had to be able to send us to the United States. We had to go for an interview at the embassy, and on our way going, our traveling agent told us not to get our hopes up, the chances of us getting in was slim. Regardless, we prayed and hoped and got our visa, decided on a date, and worked hard to raise the money. A week before the date, we were robbed. the money we had left to pay for our traveling fee got stolen and everything went backward. I saw my parents go through hell, but in every situation, they were always calm. This is something I have emulated from them. With everything I had gone through, I had learned some things. Habits, attitudes, mindset, and all. Most of it I'm aware of, and the rest, I'm still figuring out. Throughout my trials, I've learned to endure and be calm. To take things one step at a time and be patient. Not to take anything for granted and always have faith. To focus on the bigger picture and not lose track. Set goals and be determined. I've learned to not let people's negative assumptions and opinion shape who I am and what I do. Through trials, I learned how important hard work is. To be in a foreign country, with someone who looks up to you and relies on you isn't easy. I had to grow up faster than I should. I learned that things would not always go your way, there will be situations that you think it's impossible to get out of but there is always a way through. When I first started high school, I was having a hard time adjusting and adapting to the new system, I worked so hard to improve. I went to YouTube for an extra lesson. I asked my teacher for help but it just seemed like nothing was working. But I didn't give up, and with time I saw improvement. My grades changed, and I was asked to register for AP classes, although I didn't, to be considered was everything. I took college classes in higher school. I got honor roll. I was voted as the best in Health. And to be honest, if not for what I've gone through, I would have given up. The struggle I faced made me who I am today, and I am proud of myself for all I have overcome.
Esther Olubiyi
San Antonio CollegeRICHMOND, TX
Jonathan Gedam
University of Southern CaliforniaLOS ANGELES, CA
My family's journey has had a profound influence on my beliefs about the world and my career aspirations. Their resilience in the face of adversity has instilled in me a deep sense of determination and purpose. My parents emigrated from war-torn Eritrea, a country in East Africa that fought a long and brutal war for independence from Ethiopia. My mother's village and school were ravaged by bombs, limiting her education to the third grade. Seeking refuge in Sudan, she embarked on a perilous journey on foot, where she met my father. Their story of survival and determination eventually led them to the United States, where they started anew in a foreign land. The hardships my parents endured as immigrants profoundly influenced my upbringing. The weight of financial constraints instilled in me a survival mindset from an early age. I witnessed their tireless efforts to support our family while sending money back to relatives in Eritrea, stretching our already tight resources. In a household where day-to-day concerns often took precedence over dreams and aspirations, the pursuit of higher education was a luxury that my parents couldn't afford. Nonetheless, they understood the transformative power of education in breaking the cycle of poverty and were determined to provide their children with opportunities they never had. My family's journey also taught me about the resilience of the human spirit. Eritrea, a small country with limited resources, successfully gained independence against overwhelming odds. This spirit of resilience and the belief that change is possible even in the face of adversity have deeply influenced my worldview. It has shaped my belief that individuals can make a difference, no matter how challenging the circumstances. These lessons from my family have guided my career aspirations. I am passionate about using my education and skills to create positive change in the world. Specifically, I am drawn to the field of digital marketing and storytelling. My experiences have shown me the power of narratives in shaping perceptions and driving change. I aspire to use digital marketing as a tool for advocacy and empowerment. I want to tell stories that highlight the resilience of marginalized communities, much like my own family's story. I believe that by sharing these narratives, we can inspire others, challenge stereotypes, and bring about social change. My journey towards academic success has been marked by achievements such as being elected as my school's valedictorian. This honor has allowed me to excel academically while also becoming a leader in various extracurricular activities. For example, as an intern with Word Is Bond, I had the opportunity to pitch a policy in Washington, D.C., aimed at updating the American education system to acknowledge the significant contributions of Black innovators and leaders throughout history. I argued that the underrepresentation of Black excellence in history courses adversely affects the aspirations and self-esteem of Black students. The overwhelming support from the esteemed Open Society Foundation and Oregon senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley served as a powerful validation of my efforts, reaffirming my unwavering belief in the potential for transformative, positive change. In conclusion, my family's journey has profoundly shaped my beliefs about the world and my career aspirations. Their resilience, sacrifice, and belief in the power of education have instilled in me a deep sense of purpose. I am committed to using my education and skills in digital marketing and storytelling to advocate for positive change and amplify the voices of marginalized communities. My family's story is a testament to the human spirit's resilience, and it is a driving force behind my desire to make a meaningful impact in the world.
Oyinkansola Tunji-Ogunsanya
University of OregonSalem, OR
Aiyanah Munyororo
University of Nevada-Las VegasLas Vegas, NV
I was in middle school when I first began to tell people my dad got deported. Being black and not having my dad around meant the "where's your dad" jokes were a given. And when I told them my dad was deported back to African the you hunt lions and African booty scratches jokes rolled in. Despite being made fun of by the Latinos because I was African and not being accepted by the Africans because I look American was an interesting experience. I didn't struggle while my dad was here but I struggled when he left. My Dad came to America when he was 8. His country was going through a civil war and so him my grandpa and my uncles all came to America. When I was two years old he was deported back to Kinshasa, Congo. During those two years he was here with me I was the most spoiled child. I had all the toys my mom never had to work and best of all I got to be with my dad in person. I was only two at the time and I haven't seen him in person since. Having my dad be so out of reach has been one of the hardest things I've gone through. Phone calls to and from the US and Congo are very expensive so calls with my dad they were always short. Education has always been important to him, so I used it as my way of connecting with him. I was always a good student and child. I was always on honor roll, in dual enrollment while in high school, extra curriculars student body president, etc.. The more I was able to achieve through school the more connected I felt. It was and is my way of making my dad proud. He was so happy when I graduated high school and got accepted into all my top choice schools. But things took a turn when I got sick. I spent my first year of college struggling with a pandemic and then I was in the process of being diagnosed with Ulcerative colitis. I wanted so badly to follow the normal path of college straight out of high school, but I was not doing so good. I had no energy ever, everything made me sick, and I spent the year losing weight and getting sicker and sicker. During this time my dad and I's relationship took a significant hit. He was constantly worried about my health and things going on in his country restricted the amount of time we could talk. I got worse and worse health wise and ended up having to take this year off college and have an emergency surgery. I now have a stoma and colostomy bag attached to me 24/7 but I am ready to get back into the swing of life. I was my dad's only child for 17 years but now have a little brother. I want to go to school to learn French so I can build a relationship with my brother and be able to get a career that will allow for me to pay the right people to help my dad come back to America and for me to help my brother have a better life. I am determined as ever to be in control of my life and plan to do everything in my power to make it happen. I don't technically qualify because I barely got to experience my dad in America, but it was still hard and you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
Desola Sobamowo-Harrison
De Anza CollegeSan Leandro, CA


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Sep 12, 2024. Winners will be announced on Oct 12, 2024.