Roxbury student Ainsley Pena thought she was conducting her final interview for a potential scholarship with Scholar Athletes. Instead, Curry College officials and Scholar Athletes leaders surprised the English High School Senior with a full four-year college scholarship to Curry, her first college choice, on a Zoom video call. The award came via a piloted drone that delivered the official announcement in a purple drawstring Curry College bag at the front steps of her home yesterday and was followed by a car parade of family, friends, teachers, and coaches.
Pena is one of two Boston Public School students surprised with a four-year scholarship. Janelys Delvalle, a student at Snowden International High School in the Back Bay, has been accepted to attend Regis College. Ainsley is the sixth Scholar Athlete to join the Curry community. The three-sport athlete was the first female to play football at EHS, in addition to playing softball and serving as captain of the basketball team. Outside athletics, she excelled in the school band, on the dance team, and volunteered with Team Exceptional to help garden in the Mission Hill neighborhood.
“Ainsley’s application shows how hard she’s worked both in and outside the classroom,” says Keith Robichaud, associate vice president of admissions. “Beyond her talent as an athlete, she is a well-rounded student who challenged herself and excelled in rigorous course work, while working part-time and contributing to her local community.”
At Curry, she plans to study biology to pursue zoology. During the surprise scholarship reveal, Ainsley was speechless and overwhelmed with emotion but did share briefly how much she is looking forward to studying at Curry this fall.
“All of us at Curry College are thrilled to offer this scholarship and welcome Ainsley, an accomplished student and talented athlete, to our community this fall,” said Curry College President Kenneth K. Quigley, Jr. “We have no doubt she will make a positive impact on our campus, and we look forward to supporting her in all of her educational and athletic goals.”
Scholar Athletes, the non-profit that facilitated the scholarships, has high school Zones (dedicated classroom spaces) across Massachusetts staffed with full-time program staff. They work with student-athletes on academics, college planning, and health and wellness. The organization has moved its programming to a virtual “Zone at Home” model in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Each year Scholar Athletes nominates student Zone members to receive the scholarships from partner colleges and universities. Since its inception in 2009, the organization has facilitated more than $6 million in college scholarships for Zone members. Zone members applied for the awards and were recommended by Scholar Athletes based on academic performance, Zone participation, and financial need.
“These young women are among the very best that Scholar Athletes and our city have to offer,” said John Fish, Scholar Athletes Founder and Board Chair. “I’m very proud that Scholar Athletes, in partnership with Curry College and Regis College, has been able to help both Janelys and Ainsley reach their goal of furthering their education. They have earned this accomplishment through their commitment and hard work.”