Graduating senior Whittney Ankney, recipient of 2020 Janessa Ramirez Scholarship


$2,500 is granted to qualifying seniors in the Central Unified School District to help keep Janessa's memory alive

FRESNO, California (KSEE/KGPE) – Six students were chosen to receive the Janessa Ramirez scholarship from the Foundation at Central Schools.  Today, we feature Whittney Ankney, one of the remarkable students receiving the award in remembrance of Janessa Ramirez.

“I heard about this tragic shooting and gang violence actually when I was younger,” said Whittney Ankney, a senior in the Central Unified School District.

Janessa Ramirez was just 9-years-old when she was standing in front of a laundromat in West Central Fresno during a crossfire gang dispute.  She was hit and killed by a stray bullet.

“It happened in my own neighborhood and it really had an affect on me personally.”

An idea to grant $2,500 in an annual scholarship to six Central Unified seniors ignited from the tragedy.

“And I read all about the organization through an application and online and I know you want to bring awareness to gang violence.”

Awareness, as well as honor to the memory of Janessa.

“I also admire the fact that since people like Janessa aren’t able to go out and you know and sadly not able to accomplish their dreams.  You know, you’re giving financial resources to people like me and other applicants the resources to go out and achieve the things that I want to do with my own life.”

Whittney is deeply involved in the community, going home with many awards from the Future Farmers of America and volunteering countless hours to animal rescues–to name a couple of her accomplishments–and this year, adding one more.

“Congratulations to you…you actually have won and are going to receive a $2,500 dollar scholarship from the Foundation and hopefully that money will go to some good use toward your collegiate career and to your future,” said Joe Doyland, of the Foundation for Central Schools.

Whittney has been accepted to Fresno State and has hopes to possibly own a public relations firm one day as she plans to major in pre-business with a minor in communications. 

“I really want to say thank you to my four year business teacher at Central West, Mr. Anthony Bea.  You know, before I went to high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do, but he definitely brought me — has brought me to my conclusion… And I’d really like to thank my family, obviously I wouldn’t be here without them and I’d like to thank my grammy.  I’m so excited for college and you’ve really helped me so much.  Thank you.”

So far, including this year’s recipients, 24 students are benefiting from the Janessa Ramirez scholarship. 

For more information about the Janessa Ramirez Scholarship Awards & Virtual Event visit or visit them on Facebook @foundation4central 

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