Student News

Alum Erin Ashley Simon, UK announce 1st recipient of Esports Internship Fund

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Scholarship recipient Abbie Davidson.
Scholarship recipient Abbie Davidson.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 11, 2023) The University of Kentucky and Erin Ashley Simon announced UK freshman Abbie Davidson as the first recipient of the Erin Ashley Simon Esports Internship Fund, a scholarship created by the namesake UK alumna and leading woman in esports. 

Launched last fall, the scholarship aims to support students pursuing careers in the global billion-dollar industry. Simon, a 2014 graduate of the UK College of Communication and Information, 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. 

Last fall, Simon received UK's Lyman T. Johnson Torch of Excellence award. UK’s academic colleges and units select one Black alum annually for this award, whose faith, hard work and determination has positively affected the lives of people on the UK campus, the city, state or nation. 

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.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $501 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.