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Mary Shodiya moved to the States from Nigeria when she was about 11 years old. Mary's mother saved every penny to send her daughter to America to get a good education. She came here alone and lived with relatives she had never met. Her hard work paid off when she graduated at the top of her class and got into the prestigious Columbia University. But, unable to get financial aid from the school or banks, Mary says she couldn't afford college and saw her American dream collapsing.

With only days left before school started, Mary literally took a stand for her education. Mary made her way to Wall Street armed with her grades and test scores. Mary stood right across from the financial capital of the world, the New York Stock Exchange, with a sign that read, "Hello, I'm Mary. I'm brilliant. Columbia University agrees. All I need is a loan. Name your interest rate."

She stood on the street for eight hours straight.

Mary says she didn't want to "miss a golden opportunity if it happened to walk by. The only thing I feared was losing my dream. I needed somebody, anybody, a stranger to tell me to believe in me. I was ready to give up."
FROM: Tom Hanks and the Person Who Made You Believe
Published on October 26, 2004


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