The 2008 UC Berkeley graduate and Jackie Robinson Foundation scholar, who enrolled in college two weeks after her mother was killed, will be at AT&T Park today to present a scholarship sponsored by the Giants in conjunction with the JRF. Benjamin-Arrington co-founded Akanke, a program that pairs female black students at Cal with teenagers in a Richmond housing project.
How were you able to focus on education after your mother was killed? I learned to stop focusing on the little things in life and be grateful for what I had. I had a lot of people supporting me through my first year, and they really got me over the hump.
What was it like your freshman year after growing up in Los Angeles? I grew up in an area that was predominantly black and Latino, and Berkeley was the complete opposite. But I learned to adjust and navigate my way, and the people from the Jackie Robinson Scholarship Foundation were always there to help.
How has receiving the Jackie Robinson Scholarship changed your life? When I first received the scholarship, I thought it was just going to be a check that I would use for my tuition, but it is so much more than that. There is a family environment with the other scholars, and the foundation teaches us so much about how to be young professionals.
What was the motivation for founding Akanke? I saw a lot myself in the girls we visited [at the Monterey Pines Housing Project], so I thought, why not help? Why not share my experiences while these girls’ minds are still impressionable?