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Donations flow in for Crenshaw High student's Oxford adventure

Sharron Pearson is overwhelmed by the response to her request for aid for airfare and expenses. 'It went incredibly well -- amazing,' says the assistant principal who coordinated the effort.

April 24, 2009|Louis Sahagun

A fundraising effort to help Crenshaw High School junior Sharron Pearson buy a plane ticket to attend Oxford University this summer far surpassed its goal, with about 1,000 people offering to make donations, school officials said Thursday.

"It went incredibly well -- amazing," said Assistant Principal Paul Scibetta, who coordinated the fund on behalf of Pearson, 17, who is enrolled in the school's magnet for gifted students. "We reached our goal, and she can make the trip."

When Pearson, who has a 4.2 grade point average, first expressed an interest in applying for a scholarship to attend the Oxford Tradition 2009 program, her father's response was terse: "No. We can't afford it."

She applied anyway, and was awarded a $7,000 scholarship that covers tuition, 28 days of room and board in a dorm, and breakfast and dinner each day. Her study would emphasize drama and creative writing.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday, May 01, 2009 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 National Desk 1 inches; 38 words Type of Material: Correction
Crenshaw student: Two articles published April 22 and April 24 in the A section about Sherron Pearson, a Crenshaw High student trying to raise funds to attend a program at Oxford University, misspelled her first name as Sharron.

It was up to her, however, to come up with the airfare to get to London.

On Tuesday, with the support of Pearson's family, Crenshaw High hastily launched "The Sharron Pearson Scholarship Fund" with a goal of raising about $2,500 for the plane ticket and expenses over the course of the program.

An article about the fund appeared on latimes.com Tuesday evening, and in the newspaper the following day.

By noon Wednesday, the school had been inundated with inquiries from well-wishers offering donations ranging from modest checks to round-trip tickets. Among them was a man who drove to the school from Fontana on Wednesday and, trying not to cry, personally donated $100.

School officials had initially intended to end the fundraiser when they reached $2,500, but Thursday they amended the plan to accommodate donors who wanted to give anyway for Pearson's future educational needs. The fund is in a bank account accessible only by Scibetta. No more donations are being solicited.

In an interview, Pearson said, "I'm overwhelmed. I had no idea there would be such an extensive response."

"And I'm happy; I'm going to London," she added. "I'm going to send a thank you letter to each and everyone who wanted to help."

--

louis.sahagun@latimes.com

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