Thanks to a $100,000 gift from Electronic Arts (EA), an endowed scholarship was created to benefit students in the University of Central Florida’s Nicholson School of Communication and Media in the College of Sciences.

One of many initiatives in a multifaceted strategy to empower students from diverse backgrounds to explore successful careers in fields of art and technology, the EA Inclusion in Gaming Endowed Scholarship will encourage the pursuit of video game industry careers for students in interactive entertainment and gaming programs at UCF.

“Close industry partnerships like the one we have had with EA for many years are critical to our students’ success,” says Ben Noel, executive director at the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA) and director of innovation and partnership at the UCF Nicholson School of Communication and Media. “We share EA’s commitment to developing diverse and inclusive game makers, and this generous gift will allow us to support underrepresented students in perpetuity.”

FIEA has a longstanding reputation as one of the best producers of talent in the video game industry. UCF’s graduate video game design program was recognized as the top graduate game design program in the world in March, marking the third time in the last six years it has ascended to the No. 1 spot. The graduate program, which started in 2005 with 12 students, now has over 800 graduates at over 300 companies in 45 different states and countries around the globe

UCF’s undergraduate game design program also ranked highly at No. 14 again this year.

The interactive entertainment graduate program at FIEA and the digital media undergraduate program are offered at the UCF Downtown campus in Orlando’s Creative Village district, which will be home of the new Electronic Arts Tiburon studio later this year.

Available starting fall 2022, two Inclusion in Gaming awards will be distributed annually to students in the Nicholson School of Communication and Media who demonstrate how they have overcome adversity or are striving for the inclusion of others.

“The ‘Inclusion in Gaming’ scholarship builds upon the great relationship we have with UCF and increases access to opportunities for electronic artists of the future from diverse backgrounds,” says Daryl Holt, vice president and general manager, EA Tiburon (Orlando), EA SPORTS Austin and EA SPORTS Madrid. “As we move into the Creative Village and our partnerships evolve, we’re hopeful to spark a collective effort by the Orlando community to educate and prepare underrepresented youth for success in STEAM fields.”

Private gifts to the university, either current use or endowed, are of vital importance and allow UCF to fulfill its mission and improve the student experience. Current-use funds allow the university to meet immediate needs, while endowed funds are invested in perpetuity so a donor’s impact will be felt for generations.

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