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ESA Foundation Awards Scholarships to Next Generation of Video Game Innovators

Women and Minority Students Granted $90,000

November 5, 2013 – WASHINGTON, DC – 30 women and minority students were awarded scholarships to pursue video game-related degrees in the 2013-2014 academic year by the Entertainment Software Association Foundation (ESAF) today. The scholarship recipients are students currently enrolled full-time at accredited four-year colleges and universities across America.

“These exceptional students represent the future of digital entertainment,” said Michael D. Gallagher, president and CEO of ESA, the trade association that represents U.S. computer and video game publishers. “They will bring diversity, innovation, and growth to our dynamic industry. We are proud to support their pursuit of critical 21st century skills that will undoubtedly put them on a path toward professional success.”

This year’s recipients attend 25 schools across 16 states; they include California Polytechnic State University, Champlain College, DePaul University, DigiPen Institute of Technology, Indiana State University, Johns Hopkins University, Parsons School of Design, Rochester Institute of Technology, University of Idaho, University of Pennsylvania and University of Washington.

Each recipient will receive $3,000 for their respective academic pursuits, which include degrees in game design and development, simulation arts and sciences, game art and animation, visual effects, computer science and engineering, and graphic design. This spectrum highlights the growth and breadth of video game-related courses and programs offered at American colleges and universities. Nearly 400 American schools offer courses, professional certificates, or degrees related to computer and video game design, underscoring the need for diverse, imaginative, and skilled practitioners in the flourishing entertainment software industry.

“I congratulate ESAF for establishing this award for college students,” said Melanie Stegman, Ph.D., Director, Learning Technologies Program at the Federation of American Scientists. “These scholarships create opportunities for students both inside and outside of the classroom, supporting their academic pursuits as well as independent projects related to their degrees. Participating in a game or simulation team-effort in addition to classwork keeps students motivated while helping them develop practical, collaborative skills.”


Brandon Bell
Hometown: Washington, D.C.
Institution: DePaul University
Major: Computer Games Development

Ashley Carli
Hometown: Harvard, IL
Institution: DePaul University
Major: Computer Games Development

Brandon Cimino
Hometown: Branford, CT
Institution: Becker College
Major: Interactive Entertainment Design

Tiffany Entwistle
Hometown: Northborough, MA
Institution: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Major: Games & Simulation Arts and Sciences

Desiree Fernandes
Hometown: Granby, MA
Institution: Champlain College
Major: Game Art & Animation

Michaela Ginder
Hometown: Dillsburg, PA
Institution: Valley Forge Christian College
Major: Digital Media Communications

Jessy Jo Gomez
Hometown: Yonkers, NY
Institution: Parsons School of Design, The New School
Major: Design & Technology

Eileen Heilsnis
Hometown: Apex, NC
Institution: Junior Savannah College of Art and Design
Major: Visual Effects

Jaylon Hines
Hometown: Gary, IN
Institution: Indiana State University
Major: Marketing and Public Relations

Cara Jones
Hometown: Elgin, IL
Institution: DePaul University
Major: Animation

Capri Kowsky
Hometown: Batavia, OH
Institution: Art Institute of Ohio - Cincinnati
Major: Media Arts & Animation

Alyson Kuch
Hometown: Parchment, MI
Institution: Spring Arbor University
Major: Graphic Design and Digital Media

Michelle Lam
Hometown: Elk Grove, CA
Institution: California Polytechnic State University
Major: Computer Science

Warren Lindsey
Hometown: Sherwood, AR
Institution: Savannah College of Art and Design
Major: Interactive Design & Game Development

Karyn McCollough
Hometown: Woodinville, WA
Institution: DigiPen Institute of Technology
Major: Game Design

Donisha Miller
Hometown: Chicago, IL
Institution: Southern Illinois University – Carbondale
Major: Computer Science

Nicole Moeckli
Hometown: Lewiston, ID
Institution: University of Idaho
Major: Virtual Technology & Design

Monnisa Nash
Hometown: Kihei, HI
Institution: University of Washington
Major: Computer Science

Karen Navarro
Hometown: Kyle, TX
Institution: Rochester Institute of Technology
Major: Game Design and Development

Heidi Neunhoffer
Hometown: Kerrville, TX
Institution: Laguna College of Art and Design
Major: Animation

Anna Nguyen
Hometown: Harwood Heights, IL
Institution: Drexel University
Major: Game Art and Production

Abigail Riffle
Hometown: Kettering, OH
Institution: Cedarville University
Major: Computer Engineering

Wilbert Rivera
Hometown: New York, NY
Institution: City College of New York – CUNY
Major: Studio Art

Joss Schafer
Hometown: New York, NY
Institution: Johns Hopkins University
Major: Computer Science

Neel Shah
Hometown: Billerica, MA
Institution: Northeastern University
Major: Game Design & Computer Science

Jennifer Tran
Hometown: LaMesa, CA
Institution: University of California - San Diego
Major: Computer Science

Julia Tuason
Hometown: Chagrin Falls, OH
Institution: Rochester Institute of Technology
Major: 3D Digital Graphics

Mariko Wakabayashi
Hometown: Belmont, CA
Institution: University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign
Major: Computer Science

Maurice Westbrooks
Hometown: Chicago, IL
Institution: DePaul University
Major: Computer Games Development

Nancy Wong
Hometown: Chattanooga, TN
Institution: University of Pennsylvania
Major: Digital Media Design

About ESA Foundation
Created by the American entertainment software industry, the ESA Foundation (ESAF) works to make a positive difference in the lives of America’s youth by providing scholarships to the next generation of industry innovators and supporting organizations that leverage entertainment software and technology to create educational opportunities. ESAF is primarily supported by proceeds from its signature annual fundraiser, “Nite to Unite – for Kids” and other charitable initiatives. For more information about ESAF, please visit or on Twitter: @ESA Foundation.


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