Since our inception in 2006, the Garden of Dreams Foundation has awarded over $2.5 million in college scholarships to deserving students in the tri-state area. Many of these teenagers have been members of the Garden of Dreams family for years; we know that they’re brilliant, talented young people, but obstacles such as homelessness, poverty, or illness has made their lives and affording college challenging.
One of these amazing teens is Ava, from NJ. We were introduced to Ava through our partners at Make-A-Wish New Jersey, who told us the story of this young woman who had faced two open heart surgeries all before her 17th birthday. After meeting Ava, her first experience with the Foundation was during our Garden of Dreams Talent Show in 2017, where she wowed nearly 3,000 attendees at Radio City Music Hall with an original cello performance entitled, “The Butterfly, the Flower and the Spider.”
After her Talent Show performance, Ava attended the Garden of Dreams Prom at Madison Square Garden, and continued to share that she had bigger dreams to pursue. She wants to become a veterinarian and open a chain of non-profit shelters to give deserving animals a second-chance, the same way she had been given a second-chance. But to make her dreams come true, she would need a college degree…
On April 9, 2018, Ava was invited to a New York Knicks game at Madison Square Garden. After the game, Knicks player Frank Ntilikina presented Ava with an autographed Knicks jersey and she thought that was the only big surprise. That’s when Ntilikina presented her with a Garden of Dreams Inspire Scholarship worth $25,000 per year—and the look on her face says it all. Now a first-year student at Howard University, we wish Ava luck as she studies biology and chases her dreams!