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Crenshaw High student raises enough money to attend Oxford

April 23, 2009 | 11:34 am

Student 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 today.

“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. 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 the Times' website Tuesday evening and in the newspaper the following day. By noon Wednesday, the school was 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.

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 every one who wanted to help.”

-- Louis Sahagun

Photo: Sharron Pearson is the first Crenshaw High student to be accepted by Oxford Tradition, school officials said. Credit: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times