Last Updated on December 7, 2022
Oregon State football sophomore defensive back Alex Austin chose a different route with his name, image, and likeness approach by launching the Overcoming Adversity Scholarship for high school seniors and college students (with special consideration given to minority and first-generation students).
Austin collaborated with Access Scholarships and the Hirect App to establish this scholarship fund. Given overcoming adversity has been a central theme in Austin’s life, both on and off the football field, he saw this as an opportunity to leverage NIL to make a difference in the lives of hard-working students who have shown grit in overcoming adversity on their journeys.
“That’s really the whole motto of the scholarship,” he said. “There’s somebody that’s struggling, and there’s always somebody who’s struggling worse than them. But if I can help them, pick them up, maybe they’ll pick the next person up.”
When Austin announced the launch of the Overcoming Adversity Scholarship on Twitter in February, skepticism about how many students the scholarship opportunity would reach started to materialize. However, by the September 1st deadline, the Overcoming Adversity Scholarship received nearly 3,000 applicants.
To enter a chance to win, students had to write an essay describing a time in life when they faced adversity. Each student who applied exemplified great courage and strength to overcome the challenges they faced in their lives.
It was a complex selection process given the number of qualified applicants, ultimately the committee selected three winners:
Yasmin Y. ($1,000) – College Senior from California
Artem K. ($500) – High School Senior from Illinois
Lanaya C.($500) – College Sophomore from New York
Yasmin, a college senior attending the University of California San Diego, discussed what the award means to her.
“Students face a wide range of adversities throughout their college years, and I am grateful that this scholarship was inclusive of my individual experiences,” Yasmin said. “This award is a wonderful way for me to celebrate the hurdles I have overcome throughout my college career. Because I am graduating soon, I will be putting this scholarship towards my student loans.”
Once all three winners were announced, Alex got on a Zoom call to “e-meet” the students.
During the call, instead of Alex expressing his motivations for starting the scholarship fund, he was keener on understanding the students’ adversities and how they overcame them. However, as the conversation concluded, it was clear that the commonalities bonded the students, along with Alex, within their stories.
As we progress through the infancy stages of NIL, it will be interesting to witness how more college athletes utilize their platforms to earn and create opportunities for others beyond sports.
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