Kentucky State University graduate student Alexis Ellis thought it would be just a regular job interview Tuesday morning at the Academic Service Building on the University’s campus. However, the computer science major from Washington, D.C., was in for a bigger surprise. Ellis was randomly selected to win a $15,000 scholarship from gaming app Xooker.

“This means everything to me, especially from where I come from,” Ellis said after the shock of receiving the oversized check. “There are not a lot of minority students who get this opportunity to be a part of something so major. I think this program is just awesome.”


Alexis Ellis and Ron Banks

In October, Lexington-based Xooker was among the 40 employers at the University’s Career Fair in the Student Center. Ellis was intrigued with the app’s game and scholarship offer. However, she never expected to win and it was the first game that she had downloaded to her phone.

Ellis, a computer science major, will graduate from KSU in December. She feared that she would not be able to pay the rest of her tuition or order her regalia in time for the ceremony. Her grant funding suddenly had been cut and she searched for alternative ways to raise money, including potentially selling her car. Her mother also set up a GoFundMe page to help Ellis pay for tuition.

“Now I don’t have to sell my car,” Ellis said.

Xooker’s co-founder Conrad Carney said after a student downloads the app, they are registered into the contest. His company found Ellis by her KSU e-mail address, and she was randomly selected among millions of college students across the country. He looked into her background and found her mother’s GoFundMe page. Carney then worked with KSU Director of Career Counseling and Placement Ron Banks to set up a phony job interview to lure Ellis to the early morning appointment.

“Once we heard your story, especially after learning that you had a GoFundMe page, we were really happy that you were selected,” Carney said to Ellis. “ The computer picked an awesome person.”