Students say a scholarship is the opportunity of a lifetime.

It is a chance to learn and explore.

It can lead you on an amazing journey.

And it can help transform not only your life but the lives of others around the globe.

A scholarship makes it possible for a student to realize their dreams — whether it’s finding the cures for disease, helping to revitalize the economy, becoming a leader of business or government, or exploring the world beyond the earth. And yet, many MIT students do not wait until they graduate to make a difference in the world. Many are changing society while they still are students.

For example, Alia Whitney-Johnson — who receives one of the James E. Cunningham Memorial Scholarships — recently helped transform the lives of a group of young girls in Sri Lanka who had become mothers as a result of rape or incest. She taught the girls the craft of jewelry-making as a way to promote joy and self-worth. Next, she launched Emerge, a non-profit organization that sells their creations at craft fairs in the U.S., then invests the profits so the girls will have money. Now, she is working to create for them a learning and leadership community where they will have a safe place to live, an education program, and vocational training.

The students featured on these pages say they feel amazingly lucky, because without financial assistance, they wouldn’t be at MIT at all.

Nicole Koulisis says that if it weren’t for a scholarship, “I would be studying at a state school. Instead, I am at MIT — the hub of the intellectual world.

“… MIT welcomes people with dreams, and by offering financial help, allows them to make their dreams come true. There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not astounded that I’m here. Being at MIT has taught me that every moment is a moment to give back to the world.”