"I was happy, but still, in the back of my mind, I’m like, 'Wow, I wish she could be here to see me do this and see me doing good,'" Saniya Lyles said of her late mom

By Joelle Goldstein
June 02, 2021 01:17 PM

A North Carolina teen wanted to make her late mom proud in her final year of high school — and now, she's doing that 17 times over.

Saniya Lyles, a student at Middle College at Bennett in Greensboro, recently got accepted to 17 colleges and received more than $500,000 in scholarship offers, CBS affiliate WFMY reported.

The remarkable accomplishment comes less than a year after Lyles lost her mother to a heart attack.

"I'm super excited," Lyles told the outlet. "I'm a tiny bit nervous, now that, I guess, I'm preparing for college [and] that my experience at high school is wrapping up."

"It was just one of those things," she added of the bittersweet moment. "I was happy, but still, in the back of my mind, I'm like, 'Wow, I wish she could be here to see me do this and see me doing good.'"

After Lyles' mom died, the teen said she threw her focus into academics, maintaining a 4.5 GPA while also completing her fifth college-credit course, WFMY reported.

"If anything, you know, I just use it as encouragement," Lyles explained to the outlet of her mom's passing. "Everything I did before, I told myself I must do 10 times more, to make her proud."

Eventually, Lyles learned that she had been accepted to college — not just one, but 17 different schools, including Fayetteville State, Elon and High Point University — and was offered half a million dollars in scholarships, according to WFMY.

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Though she had many schools to choose from, Lyles ultimately decided to attend Fayetteville State University in the fall, the outlet reported.

"I plan on doing crime scene investigation after I get my degree," she explained to WFMY. "And I do have aspirations of eventually joining the military, as well."

With a promising future ahead of her, Lyles said she hopes others can learn from her story and will be inspired to push forward, even in times of tragedy.

"My goal in life is just to make an impact, even after I pass," she told WFMY. "I just want to leave the world better than when I came in."