Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has announced the four recipients of his $20,000 in scholarships.
Damien Massey, Fernando Ramirez-Ayard, Phillip Sandoval and Darian Colligan will all receive $5,000 towards their college tuition through Smith-Schuster’s foundation and partnership with Bold.org.
The four were awarded the scholarships out of thousands of applicants. Each had to submit a personal essay.
“Darian, Damien, Fernando and Phillip all submitted amazing essays for The JuJu Foundation Scholarship,” Smith-Schuster said in a statement. “It is an honor to be in a position to help them pay for college through Bold.org and the JuJu Foundation. I am so grateful to be a small part of their journey as they pursue their education and career.”
Even as his schools valedictorian and an accomplished athlete, Colligan still couldn’t not afford his dream of attending an HBCU. The JuJu Foundation Scholarship covered the difference.
“A few years ago I decided I wanted to further my education at a prestigious HBCU, but I didn’t know how I was going to be able to afford it,” Colligan said. “I was raised by a single mother with four children, which limited the amount of resources she had. My senior year of high school I graduated as valedictorian and the captain of the volleyball team, but neither one earned me a scholarship. I took out a few loans to cover my tuition, but it still wasn’t enough. I started to panic and then I received an email saying that I won the JuJu Foundation scholarship. It paid off the rest of my tuition and I am so grateful for that. I am able to pursue my dream career and the JuJu Foundation made it possible.”
Sandoval suffered a workplace injury, and decided to spend his recovery pursuing a degree in computer science. Simultaneously supporting his wife and four children, Smith-Schuster’s scholarship gave the family the financial boost they needed.
“The JuJu Foundation Scholarship will help me pursue my education and career in Computer Science,” Sandoval said. “Now, I can attend school without worrying as much about going into debt. As the financial provider for my four children and a wife, I work very hard for what I earn. Anything helps financially. I cannot say just how grateful I am for this scholarship on Bold.org. I finally have incentive to push myself to pursue the education and career that I have always wanted. I will do everything in my power to be the best being I can be. I am here for a purpose, and I am now in pursuit of that purpose!”
The JuJu Foundation Scholarship, a part of Bold.org’s Year of Giving Campaign, was one of many sponsored by athletes aimed towards the organization’s initiative of eliminating student debt. Carmela Anthony, Chris Paul and Dwayne Wade are some of the others that offered their own.
Smith-Schuster had initially pledged $10,000 in scholarships back in February, but announced he was doubling his commitment a month later.