NIU awards Esports ‘Fierce Gamer’ scholarships

NIU seniors Angelica Navarrete and James Westlund were awarded the 2022-23 Fierce Gamer...
NIU seniors Angelica Navarrete and James Westlund were awarded the 2022-23 Fierce Gamer scholarship for Esports.(Northern Illinois University)
Published: Oct. 19, 2022 at 5:04 PM CDT
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DEKALB, Ill. (WIFR) - Two Northern Illinois University seniors were awarded scholarships this week for their roles in the collegiate gaming community.

Angelica Navarrete and James Westlund were chosen as the 2022-23 recipients of the Fierce Gamer scholarship, which highlights Esports as an inclusive, supportive and balanced activity.

Organizers said that both Navarrete and Westlund model different backgrounds, academic pursuits and gaming styles.

“This scholarship is about raising awareness of the power of the Esports community,” said Dr. Levi Harrison, an orthopedic surgeon known as “the Esports doctor,”.

“The application was open to any NIU student because I want to spread the word about the positive aspects of healthy video gaming.”

Harrison says that video gaming can minimize stress and also, maximize academic achievement.

“It can also help you to build community wherever you are so that you know you’re not alone,” he says.

Navarrete, a senior majoring in psychology hopes to pursue a career as a college academic advisor after graduation.

“Like most psychology majors, I want to help people!” Navarrete says.

Westlund, senior majoring in management, plays Overwatch on the NIU varsity Esports team, and is pursuing his professional sales certificate in the NIU College of Business. After graduation, he hopes to begin a job in sales or marketing.

“I came here as a transfer student and I went to all the events that Esports held,” Westlund says. “I met so many people like me who have been playing games since they were young, and there were amazing connections and support.”