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JRF scholars learn, network at MLB luncheon

Students enjoy exploring many areas of baseball industry
MLB.com @ladsonbill24

NEW YORK -- Major League Baseball hosted a luncheon for approximately 25 scholarship students connected to the Jackie Robinson Foundation on Monday.

The luncheon gave the scholars an opportunity to interact and network with employees of the Commissioner's Office in a variety of fields -- diversity and inclusion, human resources, social responsibility, youth programs and communications.

NEW YORK -- Major League Baseball hosted a luncheon for approximately 25 scholarship students connected to the Jackie Robinson Foundation on Monday.

The luncheon gave the scholars an opportunity to interact and network with employees of the Commissioner's Office in a variety of fields -- diversity and inclusion, human resources, social responsibility, youth programs and communications.

The students, who come from all over the country, are sophomores and don't graduate until 2020.

"This is one of my favorite times of the year," said Sharon Robinson, daughter of Jackie Robinson and vice chair of the foundation. "All of the Jackie Robinson Foundation scholars and alum come to New York for about a four- or five-day period. … It's special to bring them over to MLB. I'm proud to be in the MLB family."

The foundation was created by Jackie Robinson's widow, Rachel, in 1973, a year after Jackie passed away. It provides educational and leadership opportunities for minority students. According to its website, the foundation has graduated over 1,500 alumni, maintained close to a 100 percent graduation rate and provided over $70 million in financial assistance and extensive support services.

If Jackie Robinson were alive today, Sharon Robinson said, he would be so proud of the students who are making the effort to improve their circumstances. Besides being one of the best baseball players in history, Jackie was a civil rights activist who was always looking to help African-Americans improve their circumstances.

"He would be so proud of my mother, because this is my mother's baby," Sharon Robinson said. "My father dedicated his life to youth. It couldn't be a better tribute to him to have Jackie Robinson scholars all over the country. They are building their own legacies and carrying his legacy as well."

Most of the students in attendance Monday learned that you don't have to be on the field in order to be part of the MLB family. One can work in baseball operations or human resources or communications. Some of the students are going to school to be doctors. They wouldn't mind trying to help the players stay healthy.

Take April Lewis, who is a sophomore at Spelman College in Atlanta. She is a health science major and is considering working in the medical field in baseball.

"I learned so much about baseball, not just what happens on the field, but what happens behind the scenes," Lewis said. "For example, you have human resources, who works with the 30 different teams. You also have baseball operations. They make sure that the fans are safe when they come to the game."

Dionne Blake attends the University of Florida, and she asked a lot of questions about what goes on with MLB.

"I thought it was a very valuable experience, thinking about the options you have outside of just being on the field," Blake said. "I've been able to network with people. It's given me an opportunity to find mentoring and other people who are willing to reach out and really help me with whatever improvements I want to make for myself."

Bill Ladson has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2002. He covered the Nationals/Expos from 2002-2016. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.