The last thing UNC student Raj Aghera expected when he entered Davis Library to study for his exams was to leave with $30,000.
Meet the winner of Kaplan’s 2022 $30K Tuition Sweepstakes.
Aghera is a junior in UNC's Gillings School of Global Public Health majoring in environmental health sciences. He is a first-generation college student, with both his parents immigrating from India.
Kaplan is an education company that provides products, resources and scholarships to students. Russell Schaffer, the director of communications at Kaplan, said in a statement that the sweepstakes were open to all enrolled college students in the United States and that the organization received thousands of entries.
“Over the past two decades, Kaplan has held numerous sweepstakes and contests to help students further their educational and career goals, awarding tens of thousands of dollars in the process, with the 2022 sweeps bestowing the biggest single prize yet,” Schaffer said.
Aghera was made aware of the sweepstakes while at a GlobeMed club meeting when a representative from the company informed students about the opportunity.
“‘I'm just gonna go ahead and enter, it's not gonna hurt me,’” Aghera said. “So I entered it, and I hadn't thought much about it.”
Aghera has won giveaways in the past, but even he could not have imagined his luck would bring him $30,000 and a chance to fulfill his academic aspirations.
“I know it's a bit cliché to say, but this will honestly let me pursue my dreams because for me, the finances for med school alone is very expensive and adding on more graduate school and all the loans, and stuff for that is a lot more added on to that,” Aghera said.
When he got the shocking news about his win, Aghera was accompanied by his roommate, UNC junior Anirudh Kompella on what was expected to be a typical night studying for exams in the library.
While studying, Aghera was contacted by a Kaplan representative who asked him to check his email concerning some good news from the company. After scouring his spam folder, Aghera found the email detailing his win.
After taking a second to process, Aghera joined a group call with his family to share the good news.
“I was super excited for him and really happy that he was able to get this opportunity and really thankful to Kaplan for making it happen,” Kompella said.
Kompella highlighted how this scholarship will affect Aghera’s career path. He said Aghera has always been passionate about pursuing a master’s degree before attending medical school but was hesitant considering the financial cost.
“It aided him in making his decision. He didn't have to directly go to med school. He had the opportunity to take his time, do something he was passionate about, but was maybe a little bit on the fence at first about pursuing,” Kompella said.
To fellow students who may be hesitant to apply for scholarships or sweepstakes, Aghera believes his win carries a sense of hope and encourages everyone to apply.
“If you have anything above a zero percent chance, even if you have a .001 percent chance to win, that could happen, it happened to me and it can truly be life-changing,” Aghera said.
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