Bronx students win big with ‘life-changing’ Garden of Dreams Foundation scholarships

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Isis Troxler (left) and Aneudy Carmona (right), two Bronx students who won big scholarships from the Garden of Dreams Foundation
Photos courtesy Garden of Dreams Foundation

Several Bronx students were among those recently awarded scholarships from the nonprofit Garden of Dreams Foundation, which works with MSG Sports, MSG Entertainment and Sphere Entertainment to build community and support youth and families experiencing hardship. 

Of the 13 students from the tri-state area who were awarded scholarships, seven are from the Bronx — and those lucky recipients now have $60,000 less to worry about when it comes to covering their college expenses. 

One student who received the good news is Isis Troxler, who is graduating a year early from Bronx Career and College Preparatory High School.

Throughout her elementary years, Troxler told the Bronx Times she had several great mentors from the nonprofit Children’s Aid, a partner of the Garden of Dreams Foundation. She later participated in the MSG Classroom program, which gives students firsthand experience in the media industry.  

Troxler began doing more and more events with the nonprofits — and taking on more prominent roles. She sang in the Garden of Dreams annual talent show and helped to host a Children’s Aid benefit last year that raised over $2 million. 

At these events, Troxler said she was proud to be a “mini-ambassador” for both nonprofits that greatly influenced her life.

“I loved every second of it,” she said. 

By that point, Troxler knew she wanted to attend college but was worried about paying for it. As one of five siblings, money was tight in the family, she said. So when her contacts with the Garden of Dreams Foundation told her about the scholarship, she decided to apply.

Despite her dedicated involvement with the nonprofit, Troxler thought her application was a long shot. She never saw the good news coming — even while being asked to speak about the Garden of Dreams Foundation alongside Knicks legend John Starks for an April 18 appearance on Good Day New York.

But Starks delivered the surprise to Troxler and her parents, who were backstage, that she won the scholarship. To her embarrassment, she started crying on live TV.

“I was like, whoa, what the heck?” Troxler said. “Is that my name next to so many zeroes?”

Having secured the scholarship, she plans to attend SUNY Brockport this fall and wants to major in International Studies and eventually pursue a career in the CIA. Between financial aid and the Garden of Dreams Foundation scholarship, Troxler said her tuition will be more than covered. 

“It’s definitely the start of something new,” she said. “It’s a life-changing experience.”

Aneudy Carmona, a senior at X259 H.E.R.O. High in the South Bronx, was another student completely surprised by having won the scholarship — especially because he has only lived in the U.S. since the start of high school.

Carmona, who lives near Yankee Stadium with his aunt, told the Bronx Times that coming to a new country “was really tough at first.” He said he was a great student in the Dominican Republic, but with his mother back in their home country and not knowing English, his grades slipped.

Carmona said the pandemic provided a surprising boost to his learning because he had more time to study English and practice on the Duolingo app. In spring 2020, he joined a program through the Bronx-based nonprofit WhedCo, which partners with the Garden of Dreams Foundation, and was able to attend Knicks and Rangers games and events including the annual student talent show. 

Carmona began taking classes at Hostos Community College to earn credits towards his degree — but when it came to his scholarship application, like Troxler, “I’m not gonna lie, I was doubting myself,” he said. 

But on April 29, he was shown a video with UFC fighter Ryan Spann announcing that Carmona was one of the scholarship winners. 

His first call was to his mom, whom he talks with every day. “She was happy, she wanted to cry and said he was proud of me,” said Carmona.

He will attend Manhattan College this fall — and like Troxler, he will receive enough aid from the school and the scholarship to cover tuition. Carmona said he wants to study civil engineering and eventually design homes, hospitals and other buildings that benefit the community. 

Having accomplished so much after only four years in the country, Carmona said he’s excited for his future. 

“I don’t have words for how I’m feeling,” he said. 

Reach Emily Swanson at or (646) 717-0015. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes