Meet the 2020-21 ESA Foundation Scholars
26 scholars, 3 scholarship funds – a wealth of promise and talent 

The ESA Foundation is proud to announce that it’s awarded 2020-21 scholarships to 26 collegiate students across the country. Created to help fuel the pipeline of innovative, next-generation game makers, the scholarship provides financial aid as well as non-monetary benefits, including networking opportunities and attendance at top-tier industry events, like E3 and Game Developers Conference.

“This year’s scholars are truly exceptional,” says Anastasia Staten, the Foundation’s executive director. “They’re women and minority students who are otherwise underrepresented in game development programs and the industry’s workforce. But that’s what the Foundation does—it helps these amazing young people share their unique talents as we strive to make games one of the most inclusive art forms.”

The ESA Foundation awards three collegiate scholarships exclusively focused on women and minority students: one for video game arts-and-sciences studies; another, in a partnership with Gay Gaming Professionals, for game-dev students serving their LBGTQ+ communities; and, for the first time this year, one for esports athletes pursuing degrees. Many previous scholars now work for notable game companies, including Ubisoft, Treyarch and 343 Industries.
Say Hello to One Scholar From Each Fund...
Computer and Video Game Arts and Sciences Scholar

Junior, Digital Arts & Sciences, University of Florida

"This scholarship is a chance to connect with other students and build a network of people who share my interests. It allows us to push each other to build great games. "

LGBTQ+ Support Scholar co-awarded with Gay Gaming Professionals 

Senior, Game Modeling & Design, New York University

“Growing up, I had a motor skills deficiency and Tourette's syndrome, making it very hard to play games requiring a joystick and motion controls. I want to make games as accessible as possible to everyone.”

Esports Scholar

Freshman, Psychology, University of Colorado at Boulder

“I believe I can bring inclusiveness into the gaming world and further create a safe space for gamers like me. Positive representation is essential to people grappling with their sexuality or disabilities.”

I understand first-hand the positive impact scholarship and mentorship have on youth who are pursuing dreams they might feel are out of reach because of who they are. ESA Foundation scholarships show these future creators that they are valuable to our industry.”
- Gordon Bellamy, CEO of Gay Gaming Professionals
You Go, Peeps!
 Scholars, past and current, are making their marks. 

This summer, Geneva Heyward , a three-time scholarship recipient and rising senior at NYU, landed an internship at Glow Up Games . But that’s not all—at the women-of-color-owned company Geneva also helped the game-dev team create Insecure: The Come Up Game , based on the hit HBO show.

Four current scholars from USC— Ah Young Joo , Atsina Corrington , Joanna Yu and Meha Magesh —have spent the past year creating an original game, Beasts of Maravilla Island . Now prepping it for a PC and Nintendo Switch launch, they recently conducted a Kickstarter campaign to cover costs and exceeded their $10K goal. Check out the gorgeous game’s demo. 

Freshly-minted college grad and 2019-20 scholar Andrew Hoyt didn’t waste time joining the video game industry. After earning a B.S. in computer science from the Georgia Institute of Technology, he was hired for what he calls “an amazing fit for my passion” for the narrative powers of Game AI. As a software engineer at Treyarch, maker of Call of Duty , he’s part of a team specializing in, yes, Game AI. 

Sophia Nelson , a scholar and recent graduate of Drexel University, was on the team that created Resilience , winner of the Best Student Game award at the 2020 Games for Change Awards in July. The nonprofit G4C recognizes video game creators who drive real-world change via games and technology. 
How Industry Professionals Can Help


Preparing to transition from studies to a job in the industry isn’t easy, especially for underrepresented students. Please help the ESA Foundation’s eager and talented scholars by offering them job- and life-skill-prepping internships.


You needed one when you first started out. We did too, and so do our ESA Foundation scholars. Mentors. Help a bright, talented, hard-working student prepare to enter and navigate the industry by signing up as a mentor today.