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A scholarship is awarded to a surprised student in a most unusual way

Boston English High School senior Ainsley Pena was surprised as a drone approached with a message that she received a four-year full scholarship to Curry College.
Boston English High School senior Ainsley Pena was surprised as a drone approached with a message that she received a four-year full scholarship to Curry College.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Ainsley Peña’s life changed forever Tuesday afternoon, when the 18-year-old stepped out of her Roxbury home to find a drone descending from the sky with a special delivery: a cloth bag from Curry College in Milton with a message inside.

“When I opened up the bag, I saw a little board, and it said ‘full tuition scholarship’ with my name on it. . . . I said, ‘Is this a joke? Is this a prank?’ ” said the Dorchester native, who will be the first in her family to attend college.

Roxbury teen surprised with a full tuition scholarship
Roxbury teen Ainsley Peña was surprised with a four-year, full tuition scholarship to Curry College through an announcement delivered by drone. (Shelby Lum|Globe Staff)

Her mother and siblings beamed with pride, Peña said, and she felt her late grandmother and older brother were looking down and sharing their joy.

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“I felt both of their presence there, and that made me cry even more,” she said.

Peña plans to study biology or criminology and become a veterinarian, lawyer, or police officer, she said.

The scholarship is presented by the college in cooperation with Scholar Athletes, a Roxbury-based organization that supports student athletes in academics, college planning, and personal wellness. Peña was a four-sport athlete at English High School in Jamaica Plain, playing softball, soccer, basketball — and football.

Some male football players didn’t welcome their only female teammate. “They would come during the practices and tackle me hard to see if I would stay down and give up and quit the team,” Peña said, adding that it only motivated her.

“I’m not scared of anything,” she said. “Anything that’s in my way, I always overcome it.

The organization, in cooperation with Regis College in Weston, also presented a scholarship to Janelys Delvalle, who earned a 3.6 grade point average at Snowden International High School in the Back Bay while playing varsity basketball and interning at a hospital. Delvalle plans to become a surgeon.

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Ainsley Pena was surprised again when a procession of decorated cars passed her home.
Ainsley Pena was surprised again when a procession of decorated cars passed her home. Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff
A parade of cars rolled by English High School senior Ainsley Pena home.
A parade of cars rolled by English High School senior Ainsley Pena home.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.