Saniya Lyles, an amazing Greensboro student, is getting praise from families around the country. Lyles received acceptances from a whopping 17 colleges and over $500,000 in scholarships. It turns out, though, the huge accomplishment is intertwined with grief. Less than a year ago, Lyles lost her mom to a heart attack.

Though the college-bound teen is ecstatic that she’ll be off to college in the fall, she wishes she had her best friend along for the journey. “I was happy,” Saniya Lyles admitted, “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.’”

The North Carolina teen goes to Middle College at Bennett in Greensboro, and her 4.5 GPA helped her garner acceptances from 17 colleges, including Fayetteville State, Elon, and High Point University. Lyles plans to attend Fayetteville State University in the fall, in which she’ll study crime scene investigation and where she’ll prepare to join the military.

Saniya Lyles is amazing! She worked through grief, garnering acceptances from nearly 20 colleges and over $500,000 in scholarships.

“I’m super excited,” Lyles told WFMY. “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.”

Saniya Lyles didn’t have a normal high school experience. The incredible student is working to complete her fifth college-credit course, no easy feat when simultaneously working towards graduation. With over $500,000 in scholarship offered to her, though, it’s safe to say she was justly rewarded for her efforts. Lyles, however, doesn’t take all the credit.

Speaking about her mom’s heart attack last year, Lyles said that “if anything, you know, I just use it as encouragement. Everything I did before, I told myself I must do 10 times more, to make her proud.”

Lyles said she is “super excited” for her future, but that “it was just one of those things,” speaking about the bittersweet feeling she got when receiving all 17 college acceptances. After her degree, Lyles will likely have a promising career in crime investigation, as she sets her sights on a grand plan. She also added that “I do have aspirations of eventually joining the military.”

Admitting she worked hard to make her mother proud, Saniya Lyles brought with her a message for fellow students looking to achieve something amazing. She hopes others can learn from her happy ending and will be inspired to push through troubles, creating success through grief.

“My goal in life is just to make an impact, even after I pass,” Lyles explained. “I just want to leave the world better than when I came in.”