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Thurgood Marshall college fund recipients announced

Recipients span North America with aspirations in sports journalism, environmental science, and hockey

by NHL Public Relations @NHL

NEW YORK - The National Hockey League (NHL) and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund today announced four recipients of the NHL/Thurgood Marshall College Fund academic scholarship, which has been awarded annually to outstanding youth hockey players since 2012. Each recipient is involved in one of the League's Hockey Is For Everyone™ nonprofit organizations, dedicated to providing youth of all backgrounds an opportunity to learn essential life skills, play hockey, and learn its core values of commitment, perseverance, and teamwork. 

"These outstanding young people are skating toward a bright future," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "While our Hockey Is For Everyone programs provide the structure, discipline and life lessons that our sport teaches so well, each of our scholarship winners was committed to proving the path to higher education can be paved with ice. We congratulate them for making the most of the opportunity and for earning an NHL/Thurgood Marshall College Fund academic scholarship."

"I am very proud of these four scholar-athletes," said Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. "The future engineers and businesspeople we support today show the power of hockey to develop young leaders who will not just transform their own lives, but entire communities." 

The 2016 NHL/Thurgood Marshall College Fund recipients: 

Akeem Adesiji played center for the Columbus Ice Hockey Club. Adesiji, who has been playing hockey since he was 8 years old, plans to study Environmental Science and hopes to become an Environmental Engineer. Founded in 1999, the nonprofit Columbus Ice Hockey Club services more than 3,000 youth hockey players each year. 

Prasanthan Aruchunan played center/right wing for the Hockey Education Reaching Out Society (HEROS), at Toronto's Jane-Finch Chapter. Aruchunan, who started playing hockey when he was 12 years old, plans to major in Mechanical Engineering and hopes to attend the University of Waterloo. Since 2005 the Toronto Chapter of HEROS has focused its assistance on two high-risk communities in the city, making hockey accessible to youth who are otherwise influenced by drugs and gangs in their neighborhoods. 

Katherine Baker played defense for the Fort Dupont Ice Hockey club. Baker, who began playing hockey at 9 years old, plans to study Business Administration and aspires to own an arena to allow more kids to play hockey. Fort Dupont Ice Hockey has been an important part of the Washington, D.C. community since 1976, providing local and inner-city youth the opportunity to play hockey. 

Ava Olsen played center for the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation. Olsen, who began playing hockey at 13 years old, plans to major in Business or Marketing and hopes to work in the sports industry as a hockey journalist. The Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation has been servicing thousands of youth in the local community since 2005, providing full equipment, ice time and coaching at no cost to the youth and their families. 

Under the direction of Commissioner Bettman, who serves on its board of directors, the NHL/Thurgood Marshall College Fund scholarship was developed in 2012 from monies raised from the annual Congressional Hockey Challenge, the charity hockey game pitting members of Congress and staff against registered lobbyists. For more information, visit

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