With much pride and joy, I’m excited to announce I have launched an annual scholarship for students at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Starting in 2018, the $1,000 Aker Ink Scholarship will be awarded to a sophomore, junior or senior who studies journalism or public relations, maintains good grades and is active in the community or extra-curricular activities.

The idea has been brewing for several years as a way to pay it forward, showing appreciation and gratitude for the gifts I received as I pursued a career in journalism. I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Arizona with the help of numerous scholarships from the school and Corporate America, and a Master of Mass Communications from ASU’s Cronkite School thanks in part to tuition reimbursement programs from past employers. These financial gifts enabled me to take part in multiple unpaid internships and my first official media gig where I earned $25 per article.

While I have been very fortunate throughout my life, I also know what it’s like to struggle and live paycheck to paycheck, unsure how to meet my monthly bills, purchase books or gas up my car. Regardless of my situation, I pushed forward with an undeniable drive and learned a valuable life lesson – accept help when it crosses your path, willingly and gratefully.

I hope the Aker Ink Scholarship helps alleviate some money concerns for an eager journalism or PR student who understands the power of his or her craft and is excited to do good in the world. The field is highly influential, constantly evolving and in need of savvy professionals who are committed to truth, objectivity and growth through storytelling.

The Cronkite School is among the nation’s top journalism schools, committed to industry innovation and real-world experiences for its students. I’m proud to support a school with a mission and curriculum I’m so fond of, and one that helped lay the foundation for Aker Ink.