UNION, NJ – A recent Union High School graduate and current college freshman has been named the first recipient of a $20,000 award from the David Allied Hance Memorial Grant foundation.

Joshua Alexander Charles was raised in Union and attended Hannah Caldwell Elementary School, Jefferson School, Burnet Middle School and then Union High.  He is now a freshman at the New Jersey Institute of Technology majoring in mechanical engineering.

The David Allied Hance Memorial Grant was started by a group of Hance’s friends to honor his legacy with the intent of giving to the community “a fraction of what he gave to us”.

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Hance was diagnosed with cancer in 2016 and died a year later at the age of 25.  According to the DAHMG website, Hance was an accomplished gamer and a full-time professional streamer on Twitch.tv/allied, a full-time Smite professional player, a grandmaster in Starcraft 2, a traveling competitor for Super Smash Bros, and “a fan of almost all esports in general”.

Charles said he applied for the DAHMG award in May and found out he won the week before graduation.  He said he found out about the grant on Twitch, a streaming service for gamers.

Charles said, “the teachers who really influenced me the most were my fourth-grade teacher Mrs. Dimperio and my high school engineering teacher Mr. Atzbi.  Of course, there are many other teachers who affected and inspired me; however, those two affected me the most.”  Charles Dimperio and Atzbi had a way of making teaching fun and effortless, and “I always had a good time with them. Their humor was infectious and I never managed to have a bad time in their class.”

“No one embodies the spirit of Allied more than Josh,” said Sam Paternostro, Vice President, DAHMG.  “We had a lot of stellar applicants, but Joshua is so authentic, so true to form in a way that is truly inspiring and evokes Allied’s spirit amazingly.”

Charles has an older brother, Michael, 20, who attends Bloomfield College, and a younger brother, Jordan, 13, at Burnet Middle School.  He said he loves reading, track and exploring the internet and gaining general knowledge of a lot of different topics.   

“I’m so proud of him and his academic achievement,” said Joshua’s mother, Izema Charles.  “Josh is a good kid trying to do the right thing.”

“Joshua’s dream is bigger than him,” said his father, Emildor Charles. 

“I’m going to help him every step of the way,” said Joshua’s brother Michael.  “I’m going to support him.”

With his mechanical engineering degree, Charles said he hopes to build robots.  He said he got the inspiration from watching the devastation from the hurricane in Haiti.  He said, “I thought, robots could help.  They could get into the rubble, get where people can’t and save lives.”

“To be honest, this grant means freedom to me,” said Charles.  “I've heard plenty of horror stories of people racking up debt in college, and I was worried that I might end up the same way. This grant gives me some breathing room and some peace of mind. I'm really grateful to DAHMG for choosing me as their first winner.”

“To everyone who donated,” said Charles, “thank you.  You guys made this happen.  I’ll be sure to work hard in college.”