Electronic Arts celebrated the first two recipients of its Inclusion in Gaming Endowed Scholarship at the University of Central Florida, awarding a combined total of $3,500 to encourage their continued pursuit of careers in the video game industry.
Established in 2021 with an initial investment of $100,000 and sustained in 2022 with an additional $25,000, the endowed scholarship recognizes students who have overcome adversity or are striving for the inclusion of others who have been historically underrepresented in the profession.
Recognized at the UCF College of Sciences 2022 Scholarship Dinner, this year’s recipients include Adrienne Boatright, Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA) graduate student, and Luis Santiago, Games and Interactive Media undergraduate student.
“It was a very long journey for me from high school to UCF. I had to have two jobs while studying full time at Valencia. But I persisted and never gave up on my ambition,” said Santiago. The Evans High School and ELEVATE Orlando alumnus is an avid gamer and third-year college student from Ocoee, Florida, who transferred to UCF in 2022 after earning his associate degree from Valencia College. “The scholarship helps me with some of my bills so I can focus more on my game projects and my classes at UCF.”
With a commitment to inclusive hiring and next generation talent development, and in collaboration with its employee resource groups – voluntary employee-led groups that unite around a common affinity, experience or interest to foster a diverse and inclusive workplace – EA is dedicated to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts at its studios around the globe to develop games that best represent its player community.
“This scholarship is just one of many steps we can take to ensure we are doing our part to help build an industry that better reflects all those who play,” said Jocel Thornhill, Director of Operations and Program Management. “We hope we can serve as leaders of change to bridge existing gaps in our industry and ensure that everyone has an opportunity to succeed.”
The scholarship builds upon EA’s longtime relationship with UCF, which began in 2005 when the digital media and interactive entertainment company partnered with the City of Orlando to launch FIEA. In March 2022, FIEA was named the world’s best game design program by The Princeton Review and PC Gamer for the third straight year. EA’s new 175,940-square-foot facility in downtown Orlando’s Creative Village, which opened to employees in March, is one block from FIEA and the digital media undergraduate program at UCF Downtown.
“EA’s investment in our underrepresented students is crucial in diversifying the local talent pipeline in our region,” said Ben Noel, Executive Director at FIEA, and Director of Innovation and Partnership at the UCF Nicholson School of Communication and Media. “This scholarship funding signals to our students that no matter their background or circumstances, Orlando is a place where they can succeed in the industry.”
Building upon the impact of EA’s Inclusion in Gaming Endowed Scholarship, leaders at the UCF Nicholson School of Communication & Media awarded $5,000 from the Tony & Sonja Nicholson Endowment Scholarship to support an additional five undergraduate students from underrepresented groups who are pursuing careers in video games.
Applications for the EA Inclusion in Gaming Endowed Scholarship typically open during the spring semester through UCF’s Access to Opportunities Portal.