POCATELLO, Idaho - It was Bengal and donkey basketball Wednesday evening in the literal sense, but it was also the unveiling of the Ultimate Bengal Scholarship winner.
It's the first year Idaho State University has given this award, and they used only social media for entries. That meant students could enter on Facebook every day in every way, earning up to 500 entries. The total number of entries came to over 180,000, and everyone involved said it was well worth it.
"A year of in-state tuition, a year of housing, a year of meal plan, Bengal gear head to toe," said Stuart Summers, one of two ISU leaders who had the original idea of the scholarship. "There's just a lot of perks that come with this. We say it's everything it takes to be a student at Idaho State University for an entire year."
The awards continue with a free iPad, $1,000 to the university bookstore and a reserved lot parking pass. Summers said universities across the nation have been contacting ISU to find out what it took to put the scholarship together.
"And I think that's a big kudos to Idaho State University, being the first university in the country to lead out with this type of social media experiment," he said.
While the evening started off with Assketball – the term coined for the event – it quickly became a much different evening when Chastity Lee heard her name called, becoming the first Ultimate Bengal.
"I haven't been applying for scholarships lately, so thought maybe I should try this and maybe it will help me out," Lee said. "I'm blessed that I won."
Lee, an Arizona transplant, said she pays out-of-state tuition, meaning this will help reduce her amount of loans she has to take to continue her education. She said it's important for her to finish school for her three younger sisters.
"I'm kind of their role model," Lee said. "I've got to keep going to school and graduate for them."
Lee's entry was chosen by a software program, but she said that just means all those others who applied are just as much of an Ultimate Bengal as she is.