Electronic Arts Awards Scholarships for UCF Students to Increase Diversity in the Gaming Industry

One of the world’s largest game companies, Electronic Arts (EA), has made a total investment of $125,000 to encourage UCF students to pursue careers in the video game industry. Through its Inclusion in Gaming Endowed Scholarship, EA aims to diversify the growing gaming industry by supporting student success at UCF, which is globally recognized for its innovative gaming-related curriculum.

Established in 2021 with an initial investment of $100,000 and continued in 2022 with $25,000, the endowed scholarship recognizes students who have overcome adversity or are striving to include others who have been historically underrepresented in the profession. . The endowed scholarship is an extension of a more than 15-year partnership between UCF and EA that expands the potential of the people and ideas needed to meet the dynamic demand of the video game industry.

Recognized at the 2022 UCF College of Sciences Scholarship Dinner on Wednesday, November 16, this year’s recipients include:

  • Adrienne Boatright ’22a digital media alumnus currently pursuing a master’s degree in interactive entertainment
  • Luis Santiago, undergraduate student in games and interactive media

“It was a very long journey for me from high school to UCF. I had to work two jobs while studying full-time in Valencia. But I persevered and never gave up on my ambition,” Santiago says The Evans High School and ELEVATE Orlando alum is an avid gamer and third-year student from Ocoee, Fla., who transferred to UCF in 2022 after earning his associate’s degree. from Valencia College.”The scholarship helps me pay some of my bills so I can focus more on my gaming projects and classes at UCF.”

With a commitment to inclusive hiring and the development of next-generation talent, and in conjunction with its Employee Resource Groups – voluntary employee-led groups that unite around an affinity, experience or common interest in fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace – EA is dedicated to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in its studios around the world to develop games that best represent its gaming 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 everyone who plays,” said Jocel Thornhill, Chief Operating and management of EA programs. “We hope we can serve as leaders of change to close the existing gaps in our industry and ensure that everyone has a chance to succeed.”

UCF and EA first joined forces in 2005 when they partnered with the city of Orlando to launch the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA) – home to the world’s No. 1 graduate (for three years consecutive) and No. 13 undergraduate game design programs, according to The Princeton Review and Gamer on PC.

UCF and EA are not only partners, but also neighbors that drive Florida’s economic vitality. The video game industry contributes more than $2.6 billion to the state’s economy and supports more than 16,000 jobs, according to the Entertainment Software Association’s latest report. Half of FIEA graduates stay in Florida. In March, EA’s new 175,940 square foot facility in downtown Orlando’s Creative Village opened its doors to employees. EA Studio is one block from UCF Downtown, home to FIEA and the Digital Media Undergraduate Program. One in eight members of the EA Orlando development team is a FIEA graduate.

“EA’s investment in our underrepresented students is crucial to diversifying the local talent pool in our region,” says Ben Noel, Executive Director of FIEA, who previously worked for EA before launching the design programs. of UCF games. “This scholarship funding signals to our students that no matter who they are or where they are from, Orlando is a place where they can succeed in the industry.”

The FIEA graduate program, which started with 12 students, now has over 850 graduates at more than 300 companies in 45 different states and countries around the world – with an average starting salary of over $70,000.

Building on the impact of EA’s Inclusion in Gaming Endowment Scholarship, UCF Nicholson School of Communication & Media leaders have awarded $5,000 of the Tony & Sonja Nicholson Endowment Scholarship to support five more students undergraduates from underrepresented groups pursuing careers in video games.

In 2021, the global games industry is estimated to have generated more than $300 billion in direct (such as consoles, software and in-game purchase) and indirect (such as mobile devices, PCs gaming and gaming communities), according to Accenture. The United States is home to the second largest games marketer in the world, with $48 billion in revenue. Last year, Wallet Hub ranked Orlando as the fifth best city for gambling in the country.

Last month, EA won the 2022 Schwartz Innovation Award, an honor the Orlando Economic Partnership bestows on a company that has the greatest impact on Central Florida’s economy and competitiveness through innovation. ‘innovation. Recently, UCF was recognized as the 20 institution for most innovative schools by US News and World Report. Knight Nation is also the highest ranked in Florida. EA and UCF continue to pursue excellence in gaming by enabling people from all walks of life to fuel the diverse ideas needed to exert global influence.

Applications for the EA Inclusion in Gaming Endowed Scholarship are generally open during the spring semester until UCF Opportunities Portal.

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