Inglewood dancer earns full scholarship to NYU

Hard work paid off when 17-year-old Assata Gaines from Inglewood found out she earned a full-ride dance scholarship to NYU.
INGLEWOOD, Calif. (KABC) -- An Inglewood dancer just earned a full-ride to New York University, but it didn't come without hard work and sacrifice.

17-year-old Assata Gaines always knew she wanted to dance, but when she found out she would be attending NYU's Tisch Dance Program, that's when she really felt her hard work pay off.

"I went into the college process nervous and afraid because it was in the middle of a pandemic, and I was auditioning on video and not in person," Assata Gaines said. "But I stayed honest about who I was and where I was from and I stayed passionate."

Assata's parents, Alan and Carla Gaines, said they saw her dedication to dance at a very early age. That's why they moved their family from Gary, Indiana, to settle in Inglewood, California, when Assata was just 10 years old to provide more opportunities her.

"It's almost like I should have expected her to get a full scholarship somewhere," Alan Gaines said. "But to get the news that your child is going to NYU on a full scholarship is still surreal. So, it's been more than a blessing. It's just a testament to her hard work and her determination."

Her dedication doesn't just stop on the dance floor. Assata is graduating Los Angeles County High School for the Arts with a 4.2 GPA.

Her parents said the example she sets for her three younger siblings and other aspiring Black dancers is the cherry on top.

"She's in a space where she is the minority. She goes to auditions and she might be the only Black girl there," Carla Gaines said. "So, for her to have the passion, the purpose to ... also help other young Black girls ... to know that there is no ceiling to what you can do. She's taken that sort of baton and just ran with it."

"Misty Copeland was an individual who took dance mainstream especially for Black little girls," Assata Gaines said. "I think as we continue on, we don't let ourselves be silenced. Our artistic ability is amazing and unreal and I think our time is now and it will always be."

Even though it's across the country, Assata said she's ready for her New York adventure.

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