Olaseni Bello, a student pursuing his MBA at the Haas School of Business, was awarded a $20,000 scholarship Dec. 17 from the Sallie Mae Bridging the Dream Scholarship for Graduate Students.
The organization, which seeks to financially assist graduate students in completing their graduate or professional degrees, selected four students to receive the scholarship this year, according to Sallie Mae’s website. Students are chosen based on their contributions to society to foster a more equitable world.
Bello’s unique experience as a Nigerian immigrant, United States Army officer and lawyer served to inspire his work in aiding the less fortunate. According to Sallie Mae spokesperson Jennifer Ruiz, Bello was chosen because of his efforts to help others, citing his aspirations to make healthcare more accessible to all in the future.
“We were inspired by Olaseni’s story because it is so relevant to the world we are living in today,” Ruiz said in an email. “Olaseni is using his experiences and his degree from the University of California Berkeley Haas School of Business to be a voice for those who don’t have the resources they need to get by.”
Bello became a U.S. citizen while earning his law degree at Vermont Law School, according to Ruiz.
He later served as a captain in the army and a Judge Advocate General’s officer and was entrusted with investigations into human trafficking and misused government property, according to Ruiz. Bello earned a Bronze Star for his service in Afghanistan and served for 5 1/2 years in the army.
For Bello, the scholarship serves as a means to continue pursuing business. As a full-time student, businessman and father, Bello said in an email that he faced many financial challenges while creating his startup CarpeMed, the first travel medical community that focuses on “healthcare intelligence.”
“This scholarship enables me to navigate personal and professional headwinds caused by the pandemic while remaining focused on the social impact mission of CarpeMed,” Bello said in an email.
Bello noted that the scholarship provided by Sallie Mae recognizes the importance of capital in allowing students to chase their goals.
As a naturalized U.S. citizen from abroad pursuing his education at UC Berkeley, Bello said his ventures in entrepreneurship come with a financial commitment.
“I am extremely humbled to be 1 of 4 recipients out of 5,000 plus applicants,” Bello said in the email. “To whom much is given, much is expected so I plan to pay this forward through initiatives that will improve the lives of marginalized communities and others on the periphery of society.”
A previous version of this article incorrectly attributed information to Emily Castellanos. In fact, that information came from Jennifer Ruiz.