Danville native Mayia Vranas was recently awarded a $10,000 scholarship from crowd-funding website company GoFundMe to go toward her college expenses while working to earn a bachelor's degree in physics from the University of California at Berkeley.
One of 10 college students to receive the GoFundMe scholarships last month, Vranas was lauded by the company for her strong achievements in the classroom while managing Tourette syndrome and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) since the third grade.
"I am extremely honored and grateful to have been chosen by GoFundMe to receive their scholarship out of so many people that entered with such heartfelt stories," Vranas said in an email interview. "Their generosity will help me reach my ultimate goal of becoming a researcher in physics, while also managing my disabilities and mental health."
To qualify for the scholarship, each student created a GoFundMe campaign to share their personal stories of overcoming obstacles while pursuing their education, how they've demonstrated character and what receiving the award would mean to them.
According to her scholarship campaign page, Vranas "always had to find ways to mentally challenge herself, to reduce the major anxiety that was provoked from being under-stimulated, while at the same time not overdoing it, as getting too tired, excited or stressed exacerbated her 50-plus motor and vocal tics."
In announcing the scholarship winners, GoFundMe CEO Rob Solomon said, "We're proud and excited to help these remarkable, determined students achieve their educational dreams. All of us here have been touched by the stories shared by the scholarship winners, and we can't wait to see how they'll continue to give back to their communities."
A 2015 graduate of Monte Vista High School, Vranas began studying physics at UC Berkeley in fall 2015 and now serves as co-vice president of the Society for Physics Students. She is on track to complete her bachelor's degree by the end of 2019, and she plans to then pursue her childhood dream of earning a Ph.D.
The award from GoFundMe, the world's largest social fundraising platform, marks Vranas' second five-figure scholarship from a company's contest.
While a senior at Monte Vista in April 2015, Vranas was awarded a $36,000 scholarship from Connecticut-based green technology firm Proton OnSite.