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Ellen Makes College Dreams Come True

ALBANY, N.Y. — Joining more than 2,800 classmates in UAlbany’s Class of 2021, Nyasha Biggs, Melick Lubin and Sharinel Nunez left their homes behind last August in pursuit of a college education – with a unique story to share with the world.

The three students are attending the University on a scholarship donated by “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and Walmart. Last February, Ellen awarded the entire senior class of Summit Academy Charter School in Red Hook, Brooklyn with full, four-year scholarships to any state school of their choosing. The announcement was made live on her show with all 42 students in attendance.

Summit Academy is in a Brooklyn neighborhood where only 4 percent of adult residents have college degrees. In 2016, the school sent 93 percent of its students to college.

Ellen’s donation was the single largest gift in her show’s history.

“A lot of us are really fortunate and we take for granted how easy our life is,” DeGeneres said, prior to announcing the scholarship. “These kids have overcome all kinds of things and they go to school every day and work hard every single day and all they want to do is go to college and they deserve it.”

UAlbany students meet President Havidán Rodríguez on Ellen's docuseries.
Nyasha, Melick and Sharinel meet President Havidán Rodríguez at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium during the filming of Ellen's docuseries. (Photo by Carlo de Jesus)

For Nyasha, Melick and Sharinel, the scholarship was only the beginning.

They were selected, along with three of their other classmates, to participate in Ellen’s documentary series titled “Summit.” The series followed the students leaving Red Hook and transitioning into college students. It aired for six weeks on EllenTube.

Producers of the series visited UAlbany twice for filming – once during move-in day and Opening Convocation, and a second time in late September.

Prior to the airing of the first episode, Ellen invited Nyasha, Melick and Sharinel back onto her show to talk about the docuseries. She surprised them yet again with another $10,000 to help with college expenses, courtesy of Walmart.

"I cannot wait to see in four years what these young people are going to do," DeGeneres said in the series preview.

You can watch the entire “Summit” docuseries below. Episode 4 includes a personal meeting between UAlbany President Havidán Rodríguez and the students at Tom and Mary Casey Stadium.

Summit Docuseries:

Watch Ellen welcome back Nyasha, Melick and Sharinel onto her show here.

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About the University at Albany
A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than
120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.