By Ryan Girves
Launched last fall, the scholarship aims to support students pursuing careers in the global billion-dollar industry. Simon, a 2014 graduate, cultivated her love and skillset during her time at UK and has become a driving force in the esports and entertainment industries. Her endowment adds an exciting new dimension to UK’s esports program, while also helping the university reach a broader student audience.
“I wouldn't be where I am without UK,” Simon said. “I started this scholarship to provide access and opportunity for students to gain experiences in esports, receive an education, and have an amazing experience at the University of Kentucky, the same way I did when I attended.”
Davidson is a freshman studying computer science and business at UK. Her passion for gaming developed at a young age and broadened into an interest in technology, leading the student to build her own PC last fall. Davidson married her love for gaming and tech with broadcasting when she was introduced to content streaming on Twitch during the pandemic. She wishes to merge these passions as a software developer upon graduation.
“I am so excited to use the ‘Erin Ashley Simon Scholarship’ to learn about broadcasting games, game development and professional skills like planning events,” Davidson said. “The opportunities this scholarship will give me are life-changing, and it will help me take steps into my career.”
As a recipient, Davidson will receive a multiyear internship, inclusive of extensive mentorship and experiential learning opportunities that engage and educate on the many facets of the dynamic esports industry. Davidson will also receive financial support for their degree in UK’s esports program.
Home to the first-of-its-kind global gaming and esports program, UK brings together academics, community, professional development, collegiate competition and multidisciplinary research around the growing global industry of esports. Together, UK and its gaming partner, Gen.G, are creating an innovative program unlike any other in the country.
To learn more about the esports initiative at the university, visit www.uky.edu/esports/.
More about Erin Simon
Erin Ashley Simon is a multimedia personality, host, producer and consultant within esports, gaming and entertainment. Her love and passion for these areas has shaped who she is today — pushing the culture forward while breaking barriers as a woman in the industry. In doing so, Simon became a leading face of PUMA’s esports line. She has worked with leading organizations — from Evil Geniuses to Riot Games — providing more industry-focused opportunities for those from underserved, underrepresented and marginalized communities.
Simon is co-owner of one of the fastest-growing esports organizations, XSET. She recently announced her new position as chief culture officer at XSET. In this role, Simon helps shape the organization's culture and facilitate connections and content in and around music, entertainment and the gaming industry.
More about Esports at UK
The University of Kentucky is home to the first-of-its-kind global gaming and esports program. Through a partnership with Gen.G, the global esports organization connecting the best gamers in the United States and Asia, this innovative program brings together academics, community and professional development, collegiate competition and multidisciplinary research around a growing global sport and business. Together, UK and Gen.G are creating an innovative esports program — unlike any other in the country — that maximizes student success and the potential for career opportunities in what is now a global, multibillion-dollar industry. At the same time, as part of UK’s larger Smart Campus initiative, the university is pursuing ways to use esports and other technologies to build a stronger and larger sense of community on campus.