Julianna Lee is one of only four students to win the Coolidge scholarship this year, out of some 34-hundred students who applied for the four-year college grant.
And she won it despite having visual impairment and having to learn English later than her peers as she only moved from South Korea to the U.S. when she was in elementary school.
When she was rejected from a restaurant because of her service dog Maggie, Julianna decided to take a stand for others in the U.S. who had suffered similar discrimination.
"But I went in, and I was told to leave because I was with Maggie and people in the restaurant said the dog would upset other customers."
She felt that such discrimination was against the Americans with Disabilities Act, which states that service dogs can enter all locations with their handlers.
Julianna and her friend started a campaign called VITA, or 'Visually Impaired Total Access,' to make people aware that service dogs are permitted in all public places.
She hung fliers, talked to business owners and attended local events to raise awareness. She even shared her experience at a UN conference.
"In ruining one local business, the root of the problem would have been left unsolved."
After the campaign, the restaurant owner apologized to Julianna and even offered water to her service dog.
"I've realized that if you do work hard, it's not impossible to be successful and everyone is so successful in their own ways. I don't want them to see this and be discouraged and say that this is something that I can never do. They can definitely do."
Julianna will be taking the next step on her remarkable journey by studying political science at Princeton University.
Jang Tae-hyun, Arirang News