As the “23 Big Dreams” series continues, the LeBron James Family Foundation and its broadcast partner, WKYC, will highlight current University of Akron students and former 330 Ambassadors. These students have mentored and supported the Foundation’s younger students, helping them stay on the path to earning their tuition and fees scholarships from The University of Akron. They are walking proof of the power of hard work, the need for a strong support system, and the value of a college education.
Donavan Wray knows it’s not easy.
Balancing a full load of challenging classes, a part-time job, and some semblance of a social life is tough. Add to that adjusting to a big college campus – where everything from the professors to the surroundings and everything in between is unfamiliar – and life as a college freshman is a major adjustment.
But Donavan also knows his future depends on it.
“It takes a lot of hard work and a lot of late nights, but it’s all worth it,” says the freshman from The University of Akron. “You have to know what you’re working for and make sure your priorities are straight. Just like LeBron. He spends all day in the gym and has to work super hard, but it all paid off.”
As a former 330 Ambassador for the LeBron James Family Foundation, Donavan has seen firsthand the commitment LeBron makes not only to his craft, but more importantly, to his kids. For three years, Donavan was an integral part of helping LeBron extend his reach across the Akron Public Schools system and provide hands-on support and mentoring to the Foundation’s students to help them catch up in school. Through the experience, Donavan could see the difference that extra help and encouragement makes in these young, impressionable kids’ lives, and in his own life as well.
“LeBron gives them someone they can look up to and watch and see how hard work pays off. He inspires the whole community and is a really great role model for them and for me as well,” says Donavan.
With LeBron as his example, Donavan put in the work and earned a scholarship to The University of Akron where he is chasing his big dream of becoming a biomedical engineer. He knows he can explore this career possibility because of the opportunities a college degree creates, and it all stems from a scholarship that eases the burden tremendously.
“College is expensive, but it’s an investment. Some people wish they could go to college but they can’t, so they have to work hard to be rewarded,” he says. “Getting college paid for is life-changing. It’s a really big deal.”
All of the students in the Foundation’s programs have that same life-changing opportunity in front of them. As long as they finish school, stay committed to their studies, serve their communities, and achieve the required criteria, they too, will have their college education paid for with a four-year scholarship to The University of Akron.
And they will be supported and empowered every step of the way by LeBron and his team, by his dedicated 330 Ambassadors, by mentors from across the community, by the University of Akron and the Foundation’s I PROMISE Institute on campus, and by local partners eager to help. With role models like Donavan in every corner of the community, LeBron’s kids have a chance to achieve their dreams.
And that changes everything.