Phoenix Suns Charities Surprise Central High School Student with Full-Tuition College Scholarship with Assist from Suns Employees

by Mychael Ramirez

The impacts of COVID-19 have been felt far and wide, especially from high school seniors who unfortunately were unable to finish their final year in the traditional sense. Classes shifted online and Zoom calls quickly became the norm.

So, when Central High School senior Star Delarosa joined a recent Zoom call for a follow-up round of a scholarship interview, she was shocked to be greeted by her mentor from New Pathways for Youth, her Central High School Principal, representatives from the Helios Education Foundation and more than 50 Phoenix Suns employees, including Suns President & CEO, Jason Rowley.  

“You really impressed everyone with your confidence, positive attitude and we heard all the positive things you have done so far. I know you were hopping on here thinking you were going through a second round of interviews, but I have some good news for you,” said Rowley. “We are extremely proud to grant you a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to the school I know you want to go to which is our great partners up north at NAU.”

The scholarship was funded by the Phoenix Suns employees on the call who represented the many others that participated in the Suns Assist program; a program that allows staff the ability to donate and raise funds for scholarships and other community initiatives for Phoenix Suns Charities. The Phoenix Suns family was inspired to give back to those in need, especially those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and teamed up with the Helios Education Foundation and local nonprofit New Pathways for Youth, to surprise her with a life-changing scholarship to attend her ideal college after becoming the first in her family to graduate high school.

“I’ve never before had our employees feel so strongly about wanting to adopt a particular cause and this is about to enhance and change someone’s life,” said Sarah Krahenbuhl, Executive Director of Phoenix Suns Charities. “We’re giving Star the opportunity to focus on her education and not have to worry about finances, it’s really special to our entire organization.”

After hearing the news, Star could do nothing but smile and quickly embraced her father and brother as they brought in balloons and the scholarship check left at her front door.

“This is crazy, I wasn’t expecting a full scholarship or expected to get one to NAU, my dream university,” said Delarosa. “It’s going to be perfect for me. I’m really excited to explore Flagstaff and be in a different part of Arizona.”

The Phoenix Suns Charities Board of Directors selected Delarosa based on her strong academic record, display of leadership and outgoing character as a member of several Central High School groups including its Adventure Club and AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program. Since joining the New Pathways for Youth Program, Star, with the support of her mentor, has created and pursued goals of many types including those in the areas of academics, relationships, and personal development.

“Her father named her prophetically, she is a star and I am so proud of her,” said Lauren Swanson, Star’s mentor at New Pathways for Youth. “It’s been a journey, and it’s wonderful she has been recognized for all of her hard work and the challenges met head-on.”

Delarosa is eager to begin the next chapter and is planning on studying sociology upon arriving to northern Arizona and mentioned several factors that made NAU her ideal destination. 

 “There were a lot of things about NAU, including the campus itself. I feel like it’s a perfect area because I love being outdoors and can explore around Flagstaff, and I’m not too far from home in Phoenix.” 

While the end of her high school education has concluded in an abnormal fashion, her next chapter is bright with potential and Delarosa is eager to begin at NAU this fall. 

“Thank you all so much, this is still so crazy and I’m so excited.”


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