HAMMOND, Ind. (WLS) -- Morton High School Senior Jenna Frezza thought she was attending an ordinary college planning assembly Monday afternoon. But then came a surprise announcement: "You are a winner," declared a team from Sallie Mae bank, which chose Frezza as one of seven Bridging the Dream scholarship winners.
That means the Hammond, Indiana, teen earned $25,000 to put toward her college education, and she was overwhelmed to find out.
"It's hard to process everything. It's all just crashing together," Frezza said after the reveal, adding, "It means that I won't have a lot of stress....It means I won't have to worry too much about how to fund for my college... It means a lot."
Since 2016, the Sallie Mae scholarship has provided more than $300,000 to high school juniors and seniors across the country who excel at school and in their communities despite major road blocks, like financial challenges.
Guidance counselor Gillian Barberich immediately thought of Frezza as the perfect nominee for this program.
"She's persevered through a lot of setbacks, especially over the last four years and she just keeps going," Barberich said.
Along the way, balancing class with mentoring, athletics and a part-time job, Frezza wants other hard-working teens to know they can succeed, too.
"Look what happened, so never give up," she said with a smile.
As for her own future, Frezza's still deciding between two schools for college and plans to study to become a dental hygienist.
Hammond teen surprised with $25K scholarship