Festus Ezeli Participates in Warriors PTA Night at Chabot Middle School
Warriors and ScholarShare Provide Two $500 ScholarShare College Savings Accounts, Discuss How Parents Can Start Saving For College

Warriors Rookie Center Festus Ezeli, less than a year removed from graduating with a degree in economics at Vanderbilt University, joined a panel discussion with members of the California State PTA board Thursday night at Oakland's Chabot Elementary School for a special parent teacher night. The young rim protector, who is averaging 4.5 rebounds and a block in the last 10 games, is also passionate about swatting away whatever keeps children from accomplishing their goals.

"I love talking with kids and doing what I can to inspire them to make whatever they want to accomplish happen. The fact that all these great parents and kids came to school at 7:00 at night for a PTA meeting shows how involved and supported these kids are," said Ezeli.

During the panel discussion, Ezeli shared with the students his experience graduating from high school in Nigeria at 14 and attending Yuba City College in Marysville prior to earning his athletic scholarship to Vanderbilt. Ezeli also discussed that if he did not have a professional basketball career, he would have continued with his education and become a doctor, a message that resinated with California State PTA President Colleen A.R. You.

"Parents love to see young people who pair their schoolwork and athletic pursuits to make their goals a reality, and to hear it from a Warriors player in our community really sends a valuable message to our parents and kids," said You.

The California State PTA's goal is to focus on the "whole child" by providing a comprehensive learning program based on STEM (Science, Technology, Education and Mathematics) in the classroom, as well as fostering interests and learning opportunities outside of the classroom. The PTA panel discussed the importance of parents setting goals and expectations for their child at a young age.

"My dream as a kid was to be a doctor, and my parents had a little bit to do with that because the only options they gave me were to be a lawyer, doctor or engineer," said Festus Ezeli. "I would have loved to be a doctor to help people, but my parents were there to set the bar high and to dream to do something great with my life."

For parents, setting high expectations for their kids may cause concern about how to pay for a college education. ScholarShare Representative Jennifer Benson discussed with parents the advantages of thinking about their children's future and how saving for college now will pay off when it's time to start sifting through acceptance letters.

"We want parents and children to start thinking early about college and achieving great grades, and that ScholarShare is here to support California families meet the rising costs of college education and share the responsibilities of the future with them," said Benson.

After the PTA panel discussion and Q&A with the audience, the Warriors and ScholarShare held a raffle to give away Warriors memorabilia and two $500 ScholarShare college savings accounts for students. Afterwards, Festus Ezeli shared that after his playing career is over he may go back to school to one day become Dr. Ezeli, and that he could use ScholarShare's help to make his ambitious dreams a reality.

"I want these kids to know that even pro athletes have dreams to be successful off the court, and with people like the Warriors and ScholarShare with you, anything is possible," said Ezeli.

This is the second event the Warriors and ScholarShare have partnered on during the 2012-13 season, as fellow Warriors rookie Draymond Green participated in a school assembly at Dianne Feinstein Elementary school on January 10 to discuss the role education has played in his life and how to start saving for college now.