The University of Utah has teamed up with the Utah Jazz to provide full, four-year scholarships to students from underrepresented groups. Every time the Jazz win a game, they will provide a scholarship covering up to the full cost of attendance — including tuition, books, fees and room and board — for each recipient’s full undergraduate education at one of six Utah universities. For the 2020-2021 season, the Jazz won 61 games and offered 30 scholarships for the 2021-2022 year. The remaining 31 scholarships, representing the rest of the team’s wins last year, as well as scholarships that result from additional wins this season will be awarded beginning with the 2022-2023 school year.
This academic year, 13 of these first-year students chose to attend the U.
To apply, students must be graduates of a Utah high school and be a person of color. Preference is given to those with demonstrated financial need and first-generation college students.
Meet some of the first-year Jazz Scholars attending the U below.
Fatna moved to Utah from Sudan in 2010. As a first-generation student with a single mother, she says she would not be at a four-year institution without the Jazz Scholarship. She is majoring in psychology and hopes to help in a hospital, possibly as a therapist helping individuals with disabilities.
“I’m super proud and happy to be part of the first cohort of Jazz Scholars. It’s so helpful to only have to focus on studying and work and not how I’m going to pay for the next semester.”
About four years ago, Paulla moved to Utah from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Now, she is studying biology and hopes to go into a physician assistant program or medical school. Paulla says she was born prematurely at just four months. With limited access to life-saving measures, it took a dedicated doctor to save her life.
“I want to go into pediatrics or gynecology as a way to give back after the doctor saved my life. The Jazz Scholarship makes that possible and it means my family and I don’t have to worry about paying for my school.”
Alexandra says the Jazz Scholarship opened the door to many things she did not think were possible. After finishing a degree in economics, she wants to go to graduate school and maybe pursue a Ph.D. to help launch a career in business or politics. She says the Jazz Scholarship allows her to focus on her classes, plus enjoy the relationships she has built with other members of the Jazz Scholarship cohort.
“Right now, I’m a legislative intern with the House of Representatives which is such a great opportunity that I wouldn’t have had without being able to get this scholarship and come to the U. And I love seeing politics through the eyes of a Latina. Whether I decide on politics or business, I think I can bring something new to the table.”
Originally from Venezuela, Jael is a business administration major interested in the hospitality and tourism industry so she can meet as many people from different cultures around the world as possible. Her goal is to one day own her own hotel where people from all over can gather and get to know one another.
“I’m Latina but I’m part of the Asian American Student Association because I love meeting people and learning about other cultures. I wouldn’t be able to do any of it without the Jazz Scholarship and I appreciate that they’re going to support me no matter what I choose to study here.”
Catherine wants to find a career field she is passionate about and help pave the way for other women of color — probably in either mechanical or computer engineering. Growing up in Murray, Utah, Catherine says she was planning to attend community college until her Spanish teacher, Ms. Gutierrez, wrote her a letter of recommendation for the Jazz Scholarship.
“I’m so thankful she did that or else I probably would not have applied. My parents and I were so excited when we got the news. I had to tell them to sit down when I called to tell them.”
As a lifelong basketball player, Cameron Nez was especially excited to find out about the Jazz Scholarship from her high school counselor in Kanab, Utah. A first-generation college student, Cameron is now a social work major hoping to help families in need.
“I want to help families that are maybe like mine. I know I wouldn’t be in college without the Jazz Scholarship.”
Davion Washington (he/him)
For Davion, the Jazz Scholarship is an acknowledgment of self-worth and the hard work he put in to get to college. He is studying kinesiology and hopes to become a doctor or physical therapist, helping to increase Black representation in the medical field.
“With this scholarship, I have more opportunities to diversify the field. I have a lot more resources at the U without a huge financial burden, and it has been fun to meet all the other Jazz Scholars. We’re like a big family.”