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ESA Foundation awards scholarships to future video game industry leaders

Women and minority college students granted $90,000

October 23, 2014 – Washington, D.C. – Thirty women and minority students from across the country today received scholarships from the ESA Foundation to pursue video game-related degrees for the 2014-15 academic year. The recipients are college students enrolled full-time at accredited four-year colleges and universities across the United States.

“These talented students are the computer and video game industry’s future leaders,” said Jenny Lai, vice president of the ESA Foundation. “We are proud to support women and minority students as they pursue their educational goals and develop the critical skills necessary to achieve professional success. They will undoubtedly make a lasting impact on advancing technology and improving our society.”

Each student received $3,000 for their study of subjects such as game art and design, virtual technology and design, game programming, computer engineering and science, animation and digital arts, interactive media and illustration.

This year’s recipients attend 25 schools across 16 states including Becker College (Mass.), Carnegie Mellon University (Pa.), DigiPen Institute of Technology (Wash.), Drexel University (Pa.), George Mason University (Va.), Northeastern University (Mass.), Rochester Institute of Technology (N.Y.), Syracuse University (N.Y.), University of Florida (Fla.), and University of Idaho (Idaho).

The diversity and high number of institutions represented underscores the growth of video game-related courses and programs offered at American colleges and universities, as illustrated by this graphic from the Higher Education Video Game Alliance.

According to ESA’s research, nearly 400 universities across the United States offer courses, professional certificates or degrees related to computer and video game design, helping to meet the need for creative, well-educated personnel in the continuously advancing interactive entertainment software industry.

The list of the 2014-15 ESA Foundation scholarship winners are below.


Charell Adagala

Hometown: Silver Spring, Md.

Institution: University of Maryland – College Park

Major: Computer Science

Tabitha Hamm

Hometown: Litchfield Park, Ariz.

Institution: Grand Canyon University

Major: Animation & Digital Arts

Stivaly Arenas

Hometown: Miami, Fla.

Institution: Ringling College of Art & Design

Major: Game Art & Design

Jaylon Hines

Hometown: Gary, Ind.

Institution: Indiana State University

Major: Communications

Rahel Badee

Hometown: Detroit, Mich.

Institution: Savannah College of Art & Design

Major: Animation

Alyson Kuch

Hometown: Parchment, Mich.

Institution: Spring Arbor University

Major: Art & Design 

Sarah Bien

Hometown: Acton, Mass.

Institution: Carnegie Mellon University

Major: Computer Science

Kori Loomis

Hometown: Covington, Wash.

Institution: DigiPen Institute of Technology

Major: Software Engineering

Paula Caixeta

Hometown: Temecula, Calif.

Institution: Santa Monica College

Major: Computer Science

Amelia March

Hometown: Gainesville, Fla.

Institution: Ringling College of Art & Design

Major: Game Art & Design

Aria Collins

Hometown: Brooklyn, N.Y.

Institution: Ithaca College

Major: TV & Digital Media Production

Isabel Marte

Hometown: Bronx, N.Y.

Institution: Rochester Institute of Technology

Major: Film & Video Animation

Erin Cook

Hometown: Coralville, Iowa

Institution: Emerson College

Major: Visual Digital Design & Interactive Media

Nicole Moeckli

Hometown: Lewiston, Idaho

Institution: University of Idaho

Major: Virtual Technology & Design

Dillon DeValve

Hometown: Ardmore, Okla.

Institution: University of Advancing Technology

Major: Game Programming

Anna Nguyen

Hometown: Harwood Heights, Ill.

Institution: Drexel University

Major: Game Art & Design

Rachel Guarino

Hometown: Bentonville, Va.

Institution: George Mason University

Major: Arts & Technology

Yuka Ninohira

Hometown: San Jose, Calif.

Institution: Becker College

Major: Interactive Media

Ivan Olortegui

Hometown: Orlando, Fla.

Institution: University of Central Florida

Major: Emerging Media & Communication

 Chelsea Studenski

Hometown: Foley, Minn.

Institution: University of South Dakota

Major: Graphic Design

Heather Parsons

Hometown: Redmond, Wash.

Institution: DigiPen Institute of Technology

Major: Animation & Digital Arts

Nguyet-Hang Truong

Hometown: Pflugerville, Texas

Institution: Savannah College of Art and Design

Major: Animation

Jessica Randell

Hometown: Monument, Colo.

Institution: University of Denver

Major: Animation & Game Development

Jesus Vargas

Hometown: Los Angeles, Calif.

Institution: Syracuse University

Major: Communication Design

Claire Rice

Hometown: Plantation, Fla.

Institution: University of Florida

Major: Digital Media

Stephanie Verish

Hometown: Brookfield, Wis.

Institution: Ringling College of Art & Design

Major: Computer Animation

Neel Shah

Hometown: Billerica, Mass.

Institution: Northeastern University

Major: Computer Engineering & Science

Amber Williams

Hometown: Horn Lake, Miss.

Institution: Memphis College of Art

Major: Illustration

Anisa Sloan

Hometown: Bowie, Md.

Institution: Drexel University

Major: Computer Science

Tina Zhu

Hometown: Irvine, Calif.

Institution: Harvey Mudd College

Major: Computer Engineering & Computer Science

About ESA Foundation
Created by the American entertainment software industry, the ESA Foundation works to make a positive difference in the lives of America’s youth. ESA Foundation creates educational opportunities by providing scholarships to the next generation of industry innovators and supporting organizations that leverage entertainment software and technology. The proceeds from a signature annual fundraiser, Nite to Unite – for Kids and other charitable initiatives support this mission. For more information, visit or on Twitter: @ESA Foundation.


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