Muyinatu Lediju has a dream to find a cure for cancer.

“I believe I can,” she says. “I don’t know how or when, but I just trust that I am on the right path.”

At age 10, she first heard that cancer has no cure. “And I thought, well, why not? I mean, if people can dream, then there should be a solution.”

Attending a Christian grammar school, she says, she was learning that all things are possible if you believe, and her teachers would often tell her, ‘You can do whatever you put your mind to.’ Set on her goal, Lediju earned A’s in science and graduated from eighth grade first in the class. Then, at age 15, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, and she vowed that some day, somehow, she would make her dream a reality.

Now, the 20-year-old junior from Brooklyn, N.Y., is studying mechanical engineering and hopes to use her MIT education to contribute to the life and health of others. She plans one day to create medical devices for early cancer detection. Last summer she worked at a biomedical engineering company in Minneapolis, moving her a step closer to her goal.

Without a scholarship, she says, she’d likely not be at MIT. “The most important thing I learned from receiving this money is the importance of giving,” Lediju says.

“When you’re smart, sometimes you feel you have to do everything yourself, but I’ve learned that this individualistic mentality isn’t always best. Because I have received so much help, I’m encouraged to also offer help. In the same way you want your problems solved, there are others who also want their problems solved and you just might be their solution.

“Now, I’m even more willing to help people solve their problems. I realize that reaching out to others is not only important, it’s essential to succeed.”