Last May, Yasmine Arrington, a senior at Benjamin Banneker High School, was in the middle of one of the last math tests that she would take in high school, when she was paged to the office. Certain that she had heard the announcement wrong, and focused on the test, she tried to concentrate on the problem on the paper.
Then she was paged again. And again. So she stood up and walked down to the office.
When she arrived, she was greeted by an office official, who told her: “You’re in big trouble, Missy.”
“I was so scared,” she remembered, with a laugh. “I just wanted to graduate on time.”
She continued into the office to the Guidance Suite, where the counselors were all gathered around a desk. Her principal handed her the phone, and on the other end of the line was Redskins owner, Daniel M. Snyder.
That “trouble” that she was told she was in was Snyder congratulating her for being the recipient of the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation’s $25,000 scholarship.
“I was so surprised,” Arrington said. “Originally, I hadn’t even applied for that scholarship–I applied for a laptop that they were offering to high school students. It was a simple one-page application, but someone from the Redskins Charitable Foundation pulled it out for this scholarship as well. That was a really nice surprise.”
While she had the grades to get into college, Arrington said that she applied for countless scholarships in order to afford it. It was because of scholarships, like the one offered by the Redskins Charitable Foundation, that have helped ensure that.
On top of that money, Mr. Snyder and the Charitable Foundation offered her an additional $5,000 to help fund Arrington’s nonprofit scholarship, ScholarCHIPS (which provides college scholarships to high school seniors with an incarcerated parent). This bumped her nonprofit’s scholarship pool to $9,000, which allowed her to offer a scholarship for 2012.
The issue of parental incarceration is very near and dear to Arrington’s heart, whose mother died during her freshman year in high school, and whose father has spent time in and out of prison her whole life.
“His last time in, he was in prison for six years, and he’s been out for about a month and a half,” she said. “I went to see him for Thanksgiving, and I’m just now getting to know him, but it’s been a challenge. He’s a good guy, but he’s got a prison mentality sometimes. It’s been fun getting to know him, but it’s also sad, because he wants me to be that 4-year-old little girl that he left.”
But before she even got to know her own father, she wanted to help college-bound students in her situation. Now at Elon University, she’s studying communications and wants to be a journalist or talk show host some day.
Her trip to the Redskins-Vikings game on Saturday was her first trip inside the confines of FedExField. While she stood on the sidelines watching pregame warmup, she was visited by Mr. Snyder and Kiersten Allen, wife of general manager Bruce Allen.
Shortly before kickoff, she was the fan observer for the official coin toss, and got to shake the hand of her favorite Redskins player, Santana Moss.
“I was so excited, it was blowing my mind,” she said. “This may not be that big of a deal, but I never imagined that this would happen. This is so exciting.”
Congratulations Yasmine, and good luck on your future endeavors! For more information, or to donate to her scholarship, visit the homepage here.