Phoenix Suns Charities, Helios Education Foundation present Marylin Maldonado with full-tuition scholarship to NAU

Marylin Maldonado pictured with Gorilla and Louie

Marylin Maldonado knew it was going to be a big day. Just before she was scheduled to participate in a teleconference interview for a small college scholarship, Jessica Solis with Be A Leader Foundation called.

Solis instructed Maldonado to come outside where a small group of representatives from the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Suns Charities surprised her. The Suns Gorilla hopped out of his Hummer and handed her an iPad with a special video message from Suns President and CEO Jason Rowley on behalf of the Phoenix Suns Charities Board of Directors.

“We know you want to be a Northern Arizona University Lumberjack, so the Suns, along with Helios Education Foundation, want to help make that dream a reality, as we’d like to offer you a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to NAU,” Rowley said in the video.

Maldonado, who will be the first in her family to attend college, couldn’t believe it. The tears began to flow.

“I can’t even explain it,” Maldonado said. “I’m speechless.”

Maldonado was selected based on her strong academic record, leadership as a member of the Carl Hayden Community High School marching band and her involvement with Be A Leader Foundation, a local nonprofit that provides students in Arizona with tools and resources to navigate the college application process.

Though she envisioned a more ordinary ending to her high school career, she couldn’t be more excited to attend NAU this fall.

“I’m really thankful for all of you, and I hope to become something big in this world.”