The Point Community College Program inspires LGBTQ community college students to fulfill their ambitions of graduating with an associate’s degree and/or transferring to a four-year college or university.

Students accepted into the program will receive scholarship support each year, admissions counseling, coaching and financial education at the Point Community College Transfer Symposium in Los Angeles, and access to the Point Foundation network of LGBTQ scholars, more than 300 alumni, and many others dedicated to seeing LGBTQ students succeed. 

APPLICATION CLOSED

History

The Community College Scholarship Program launched in 2016, and went national in 2017. To be selected for the scholarship, students are evaluated on academic performance and potential, financial need, their involvement in school and community, and goals for the future. This selective program aims to support LGBTQ leaders in their growth as student activists so that they can continue to inspire change in their communities both before and after transferring.

Students receive:

  • Academic scholarship each year.
  • Admissions counseling, coaching, and financial education via the Point Community College Transfer Symposium in Los Angeles during August/September.
  • A personal coach to check in with multiple times throughout the academic year to ensure students remain on track to transfer.
  • Access to the Point Foundation network of LGBTQ scholars, more than 300 alumni, and many others dedicated to seeing LGBTQ students succeed.

Point Community College Transfer Symposium (August/September)
Students will attend workshops and presentations to better understand the transfer process, build knowledge and connect with the scholarship recipient class. Workshops will focus on topics such as: crafting a personal statement, building a resume, navigating financial aid and picking the right school for you.

Coaching Program (Academic Year)
Point will match each community college scholarship recipient with a coach. Coaches will be selected from a pool of caring LGBTQ individuals who have successfully navigated the admissions process and subsequently graduated from a four-year college. After screening and training each coach, Point will facilitate an introduction to the community college scholarship recipient and facilitate three to four virtual meetings with the coach and student at strategic times throughout the academic year. Each meeting will have a pre-determined topic aimed at making sure the student is receiving the necessary support and taking the right steps, to accomplish their goal of transferring to a four-year college. Students will be required to submit feedback surveys for each phone call.

Transfer Update (May/June)
Students will submit update through a survey to the Scholarship Programs Manager on the status of their community college degree and transfer to a four-year college or university.

SUPPORT POINT FOUNDATION’S COMMUNITY COLLEGE PROGRAM BY CREATING A SCHOLARSHIP

Point Foundation provides an opportunity for donors to designate a scholarship that recognizes and acknowledges a specific source, whether it be the donor, an individual, or institution they wish to honor.

Point Foundation’s Community College program assists LGBTQ community college students with the transfer process so that they may attend a four-year college or university and achieve their leadership goals.

To meet these students’ needs, Point Foundation works with benefactors to craft Community College Named Scholarships. Each scholarship represents a commitment of $8,000 over one year. This covers the full cost of tuition for the recipient student, as well as the coaching program which helps the student prepare for the transition into a four-year institution. The scholarship also covers the student’s participation in leadership programming, such as our annual Community College Symposium in Los Angeles.

Community College Named Scholarships are a highly effective way to impact the lives of our next generation of leaders, while also building visibility and goodwill for your brand. We look forward to discussing this unique partnership opportunity, including customization of scholarships, in greater detail.

For more information about Named Scholarships, please contact either David Garza via email and (212) 512-5339, or Adam Crowley via email and (323) 933-1234

 

WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO APPLY TO THE POINT COMMUNITY COLLEGE PROGRAM?

Point Foundation requires the following for applications to be considered:

  • Must be enrolled or intending to enroll at an accredited community college in based in the United States, including Hawaii and Alaska, in the fall of 2021
  • Must have 1-2 years of community college left AND(1) intending to transfer to a bachelor’s degree program at a four-year college or university for Fall 2022 or Fall 2023 OR(2) graduate with an associates degree in Fall 2023
  • Must be “out” as a person who identifies as a member of the LGBTQ community

We consider many factors when evaluating scholarship applicants, including:

  • Financial need or independence
  • Personal history
  • Academic achievement
  • Community involvement and work experience

All questions and concerns regarding the Point Foundation Community College Scholarship can be addressed to applications@pointfoundation.org .

-+I do not know which four-year university or college I want to transfer to; can I still apply to the Point Community College Scholarship Program?

Yes. You do not need to be accepted to a particular four-year college or university nor be completely sure as to where you will be applying. PLEASE NOTE students requiring only 1 year of support must intend to enroll at a four-year college or university for fall 2022 – our program can help you figure out where to go and how to get there.


-+I’m working on a two-year degree and intend to transfer to receive my bachelor’s degree, but I do not attend a community college. My college campus grants both two-year and four-year degrees. Am I eligible to apply?

Yes. You must be attending a community college or working on a two-year degree and intending to transfer to a four-year college or university to be eligible.


-+Is there an age limit to apply to the Point Community College Scholarship Program?

No. There is no age limit to be eligible for the Point Community College Scholarship Program. We ask that you have 1-2 years left of your community college education with the intent to either transfer to a four year college or university in Fall 2022 or graduate with an associates and/or transfer to a four year college or university in Fall 2023.


-+I’m a senior in high school and I plan on staying for only 1 year at a community college before transferring. Am I eligible to apply?

Yes. If the 2021-2022 academic year is your final year of community college, you are eligible to apply.


-+If my goals are not exclusively focused on the LGBTQ community may I still apply?

Yes. Scholarship applicants may have goals that reflect a wide range of possibilities. Some recipients may choose a career that focuses on the LGBTQ community, and others may use their skills and influence in other ways while not working full time on LGBTQ issues.


-+I am not sure that I qualify (or identify) as either financially disadvantaged or marginalized, but I possess other valuable qualities. Should I still apply?

Yes, you may qualify and should apply. Point Community College Scholarship Program applicants are assessed on all facets of each person’s application.


-+Are Point Community College Scholarships restricted to any geographic regions?

No. For the 2021-2022 academic year, Point Community College Program scholarships will be distributed to students studying anywhere in the United States.


 

-+Does Point provide scholarships to undocumented or international students?

Yes. Point’s application process is open to all community college students regardless of citizenship.


-+I don’t know if I consider myself to be “out.” Should I still apply?

If selected as a Point Community College Program scholarship recipient, your name and photo will be displayed on the Point Foundation website and may be distributed on other venues. Please determine if you are comfortable with this requirement before participating in our application process.



Applicant Submission Deadlines

Monday, March 1:
Point Community College Scholarship Application opens.

Tuesday, May 4:
Point Community College Scholarship Application closes at 9:00 am PST/12:00 p.m. EST.

Mid-May: 
Semifinalist’s notified and videos due mid-May.

-+Will I need to submit any supplemental materials?

Semifinalist’s will receive an email detailing the requirements for the video.


End of May: 
Phone Interviews for selected Finalists

-+Will Point let me know if I need to be part of a phone interview?

All semifinalists who will have phone interviews will be contacted in May. Please note that Point does not provide feedback regarding submitted scholarship applications nor any part of the selections process


June:
Scholarship recipients will be notified.

-+How will I know if Point received my completed application?

Point’s online application system automatically sends each applicant a confirmation email when their online scholarship application is received.


-+Can I submit a paper application?

Point Community College Scholarship Program applications may only be submitted online. Faxed or mailed applications will not be considered.


-+I attended high school and/or community college a long time ago and have recently re-enrolled. I don’t remember all my previous GPAs. What should I do?

If you have contacted your previous schools and still cannot attain your GPA, please estimate to the best of your abilities. If you absolutely cannot remember, please specify that you do not have access to an accurate GPA.


-+Will Point Foundation contact the employers, supervisors, and references I list in my application?

Point reserves the right to contact any of the individuals or entities listed in your application.


-+When will I know if I have been selected as a finalist?

Please select “Dates & Deadlines” from the menu on the left for the timeline of our application cycle.


-+Will I need to submit any supplemental information?

Finalists will receive notification if supplemental information is required.



STEPHANIE KING

Diablo Valley College
Nursing
She/Her/Hers
John S. Knudsen Scholarship

Stephanie King is a nursing student at Diablo Valley College. She currently lives in San Leandro, California with her partner, Gabby and her dog, Blu. Stephanie hopes to transfer into a nursing school by the fall of 2021. She discovered her interest in nursing due to her strong love for medical science. She served a term in the BAYAC Americorps with La Clínica de la Raza as a health Educator from 2017-2018. In her free time she likes to cook, go on hikes, and watch movies. She is very passionate about making a difference in her community and helping others.

SKYLER WEINBERG

Chemeketa Community College
Associate of Arts
They/Them/Theirs and She/Her/Hers

Skyler Weinberg is an eighteen-year survivor of childhood incest, torture, and sex trafficking and it is their life’s purpose to pursue a career in the therapeutic fields. Skyler says that investing in their education, and partnering with Point Foundation, not only allows them to enter spaces they otherwise would be kept from as a non-traditional, queer, disabled student, but it invites them to further their soul’s work.

Skyler’s healing journey has led them to the roots of their own pain and has brought them to the roots of the original pain: colonialism. They have become innately aware of how both the survivors who remain trapped within the violent cycle, and those with the resources to exit it, are left with few options on how to live let alone exhume their autonomy within life. Skyler believes when healing is not actively anti-oppressive it is automatically perpetuating oppression and that in the context of abuse, they may be a victim but they are also extremely privileged and it is their responsibility to ensure that everything they do in the field is rooted in awareness of that fact.

Skyler says that writing about their own lived experience, pursuing a life of research and education, and unpacking years of healing as advocacy is not cathartic for Skyler, it is necessary. Skyler says that their story may be why they are here, but their love for their community is why they are in education.

ANGELIQUE WALKER

Skyline Community College
Automotive Technology
All Pronouns

Angelique Walker is a fulltime Automotive student at Skyline Community College in San Bruno, CA. The day they graduated high school in Berea, KY, they journeyed on a national backpacking trip for 5 years. During this they had come out about being pansexual and spent a lot of time volunteering in free food kitchens and youth outreach services. They volunteered last year through Altruist Relief coordinating with Comidas no Bombas, outreaching resources for the Central American refugees where they maintained the communications with a women’s shelter and LGBTQ+ safe house. They have now dedicated their time to gaining an automotive and engineering degree, hoping to bring innovative designs and education to communities and help anyone on the road in need. Angelique has dedicated their heart to social justice and speaking up for those who are still finding their voices.

STAR UDENZE

Riverside City College
Nursing
She/Her/Hers and They/Them/Theirs

Star has struggled to come to terms with her sexuality since she was 11 years old, growing up in a religious home with immigrant parents. She feels this has taught her a lot about herself and pushed her to create safe spaces for the LGBT community ever since. By the time she reached high school, Star was fully out to her school and immediately began supporting the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) and creating events to showcase LGBT youth for the first time in the district. The GSA also worked to normalize remembering LGBT history by creating chalk murals every month to showcase past contributions erased by history. Star’s biggest project was the Seed’s Showcase which featured the art, spoken word and talents of the LGBT community and which is now a tradition for her high school GSA. Although she lost friends and risked being outed to their homophobic parents, Star managed to safely make it into college to pursue nursing and art so she can work to address the disparities in healthcare the LGBT community faces every day. Star says that being a part of the Point Foundation is what will truly help her make this possible.

MELISSA SANTIAGO

Miami Dade College
Biotechnology
She/Her/Hers

Born in Vitória, Brazil, Melissa learned early on that only through quality education could she achieve her highest goal of becoming a female researcher with significant contributions to science.

As a woman, Latin and bisexual, she always knew that the path would be challenging, however even without the support of her parents and friends, she was accepted into the Biotechnology course at Miami Dade college.

She decided that in the future, one of her first scientific contributions would be fighting against HIV, and other diseases that still has no cure.

AVA OWENS

Oregon Coast Community College
Aquarium Science Program
She/Her/Hers

Ava Owens is a bisexual female STEM student at Oregon Coast Community College. She is extremely passionate about the ocean, marine life and women in the sciences. In her free time, she raises pigeons and uses them to help kids in 4-H learn about animal care and public speaking. She started going to college in 11th grade thanks to the early college program. After graduating this 2020, she will go into the two-year Aquarium Science program at OCCC to further her education in marine organisms. After completing that program, Ava plans to transfer to Oregon State University to get a Masters in Marine Education. Ava wants to work at an aquarium in education and develop curriculums and teach new generations about marine life.

FELIX GIGLIO

Central New Mexico Community College
Nursing
They/Them/Theirs and He/Him/His

Felix Giglio is a 23 year-old transmasculine person currently working their way through a Nursing degree in New Mexico. As a trans person, Felix understands the necessity of culturally humble and respectful healthcare professionals, especially for the LGBTQ+ community. They recognize the health disparities that queer people experience and firmly believe in a diverse healthcare field where all people are represented. They aspire to build connections between vulnerable communities and health services through low-barrier services focused on empathy and compassion. When not in school, Felix works for a LGBTQ+ group home for unhoused young people, walks their dog, and (attempts to) make sourdough bread.

SHIRI DAVY

Glendale Community College
Economics
She/Her/Hers

As a child, Shiri loved to write stories and draw. Today she still loves to write songs in her spare time and creativity has remained a priority in her choice of major although not in the way she may have imagined when she was younger. Shiri is an Economics Major because she believes socioeconomics is a driving factor in the way our world advances culturally, scientifically, and even artistically.
 
She is a second-generation Caribbean-American and an openly out bisexual. Shiri takes pride in the way that her struggles have guided her to her true community. The obstacles she has faced in finding safety and tolerance have informed her passion to contribute any skills she gains in her education to an equitable economy. Shiri says the world is a long ways away from socioeconomic equality giving way to a higher standard of social justice. In her studies, Shiri’s curiosity about innovative financial policy design drives her while continuous reminding her of human wellbeing as the forefront priority.

TATIANA CLAURE

Santa Monica College
Engineering
She/Her/Hers

Tatiana Claure is an LA transplant. Raised by her single mother, Tatiana is a proud Latina feminista. Overcoming adversity, Tatiana’s academic and personal goals stem from her desire to help heal the planet.

Studying Environmental Science at SMC, Tatiana is interested in developing green technology, designing eco-friendly lifestyles, and constructing small, sustainable homes. She hopes to increase accessibility for affordable housing for low-income families. The work she hopes to do comes from her aspiration to teach communities, especially her own, about integrating minimalism into their everyday lives. She is vocal about ending unethical practices and facilitates student-led workshops hosted by Sustainable Works. She works as a project lead at a company, called TertaTech, to teach communities about waste diversion.

Tatiana currently serves as AS Director of Activities and is an advocate for students at SMC. She has organized events and workshops addressing sexuality, gender, and culture. After struggling with her sexuality, Tatiana aims to help other students express themselves honestly. She completed the Title IX Leadership program at SMC, and always seeks to incorporate an intersectional perspective in her work. Interested in engineering and design, Tatiana is thinking innovatively about the future of urban life. She intends to transfer and receive a BS in Environmental Engineering and hopes to pave the way for the next generation.

MADISON CHAPARRO

Saddleback College
Film
She/Her/Hers

Madison is an artist who grew up in Hesperia, California. She was raised by her single teen-mom as they struggled to afford groceries. The High-Desert is a dangerous place to live, and they were frequently robbed and assaulted in the fourteen years she had lived there. Seeking a better life, they moved to southern orange county and lived paycheck to paycheck. She was verbally assaulted and singled out by students and teachers alike for her sexuality as a lesbian, as well as her background in the High-Desert. She was forced to become completely independent when she was kicked out by her mother at eighteen because of her sexuality. Her mother did not complete high-school education, so Madison was determined to educate herself and finish college. After many intense trials and academic efforts, she is proud to say that her GPA is UCLA-transfer worthy. Madison fully intends to put all of her heart and more into her career in film. She will make films and artwork dedicated to LGBTQ+ audiences and those who struggle with socioeconomic and racial marginalization.

TRISTAN CALLAHAN

Cuyahoga Community College
Physical Therapy
He/Him/His

Tristan Callahan was born in Cleveland Ohio, but has lived all over the United States, Europe, and China. He has authored several short stories and was a plaintiff in Karnoski v. Trump.

After a homophobic and transphobic attack that required surgery and months of physical therapy, he dedicated himself fully to recovery. It took some time, but eventually he realized he wanted to help others the way he’d been helped. He enrolled in a Physical Therapist Assistant program and is currently an honor’s student in the program.

In his free time, he writes, does CrossFit and adventure races, and drinks a lot of coffee.

ALBERTO WILLIAMS

Wilbur Wright College
General Studies
He/Him/His
Wendell Reid Scholarship

After Alberto receives his Associates in General Studies, he will be transferring to Illinois Institution of Technology for Computer Science in Fall 2021. He will use both his skills and personality to make an impact in the programming world. He hopes to bring some LGBTQ representation to the field of Software Development.

Alberto also plans to contribute his abilities to help LGBTQ youth by using his skills as a programmer to train LGBTQ youth, so they may be able to find a love for programming. As a half black and half Hispanic male, he wants to reach out to other LGBTQ youth, whether black, Hispanic or any other ethnicity, to help give them a voice and to help show them they are worth something.

He was always taught to stand up for what he believes in, and Alberto intends to use his skills to spread the message that all LGBTQ people deserve respect and equality.

GILL SULLIVAN

Austin Community College
Computer Science
She/Her/Hers
Toyota Scholarship

Gill was raised by a single dad of three girls, who always said that hard work and perseverance would take you anywhere in life. He would encourage them to be ‘tom boys’ and refused to let them quit anything. When Gill moved to Texas, she was able to create a support system she had not had before. Her friends showed her unconditional love and support and she was able to use her dad’s lessons to their full extent. She became more confident in herself and her abilities.

SHUKRI SHEICK

Miami Dade College
Nursing
She/Her/Hers
Broward LEADS Scholarship

I am currently enrolled at Miami Dade College to get my RN in the field of nursing. I have recently obtained my LPN license which was my biggest accomplishment in my life. This scholarship will allow me to achieve many life goals of mine by allowing me to continue my education at Miami Dade college in order to do the LPN-RN program. As a minority, I am not presented with opportunities as others and it only gives me more reason not to quit. Therefore, it’s my mission goal to get my college education and give back to those who have had challenges such as myself. I believe I put others before myself, for instance the time I cared for my grandmother after she received a double knee arthroplasty while she couldn’t care for herself by not being able to do her activities of daily living. I will constantly sacrifice my life by doing whatever is possible in order to help others. I am honored to present that I am a part of the Point Foundation community and can’t wait to see what is in stored.

RANDY RODRIGUEZ

Cypress Community College
Anthropology
He/Him/His and They/Them/Theirs

Randy Rodriguez takes pride in identifying as a first-generation, queer Latinx individual whose educational path has been anything but conventional. After repeating his Sophomore year in high school and eventually obtaining his diploma, he quickly entered the workforce and began working largely in the non-profit sector. From working as an Afterschool Program Leader with the Los Angeles Conservation Corps to eventually finding himself as a Quality Services Specialist conducting preschool classroom observations throughout Los Angeles County, these experiences and those in between have helped Randy have a greater understanding that the work within the realm of transformative justice is far from done.

After making the challenging decision of quitting working full-time to go back to school in June 2019, he found himself fully immersed in the college experience and was looking to be as involved as he could. He is currently pursuing a B.A in Cultural Anthropology and plans to minor in Applied Developmental Psychology. Randy serves as President of Cypress College’s Queer Straight Alliance. Additionally, he also serves as Vice President of his campus’s Anthropology Club and works to raise awareness on this vastly broad field, human diversity, and its effects throughout the world.

LAKONA RODRIGUES

Windward Community College
Natural Science
He/Him/His
Wells Fargo Scholarship

Lakona Rodrigues was born and raised on the island of O’ahu in the Hawaiian Islands,and is currently attending Windward Community College in his hometown of Kane’ohe. Even though Lakona is surrounded by the natural beauty that Hawai’i has to offer, there were many people who did not accept him because he is an openly gay man, but there were a handful of people who accepted, loved, and supported him, including the love from his other half and their daughter. The love that he receives from his family and loved ones has given Lakona the strength to pursue any goal that he sets for himself.

Throughout Lakona’s life, when he needed a place of comfort, he always turned to the ocean for healing and guidance. He has a strong passion and love for the ocean and is willing to do whatever it takes to help protect and preserve it. He is currently pursuing a degree in marine biology because he feels it’s his time to take action and stand up to protect and preserve our ocean and marine life for future generations. Lakona’s goal in life is to find a solution to lower the amount of pollution that is still affecting the ocean today. Going back to school and obtaining a degree is one of the hardest challenges he has ever been through, but his passion, commitment, drive for success, along with the love and support of his family, are what push him to continue on this amazing journey.

WAVERLY ROCKLIN

San Diego City College
Nursing
She/Her/Hers

Waverly Rocklin is a lesbian nurse, athlete, and musical enthusiast currently living in San Diego. She is actively pursuing a degree in nursing at San Diego City College, with plans to transfer to a 4-year university to complete her Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing. Her future aspirations include further involvement in gender affirming healthcare for the LGBTQIA+ community and a Master’s or Doctorate in neonatology. Her love and dedication for neonates and critically ill children stems from her family’s involvement in the Foster Care system as a foster family to many medically abused and alcohol/drug-addicted children. The children she welcomed into her home affected her in a profound way. The care and love she and her family provided to them drive her desire to provide safe and competent care for the most vulnerable patients. Her love and dedication to the LGBT community comes from her own queer identity, her gay parents, and deviation from the standard nuclear family structure she grew up with. She has played competitive banked track roller derby for the past 11 years and coaches/mentors junior derby (children of all genders, ages 7-17). Waverly loves The Golden Girls, dogs, food of all kinds, and glitter.

RAELYNN REQUENA

Cypress Community College
Psychology
She/Her/Hers
Wells Fargo Scholarship

Raelynn is 20 years old and double majoring in psychology and African American studies. She is a Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ+ rights, and mental health advocate as well as a feminist. Being a black woman and a lesbian, Raelynn says she is used to being torn down and taken advantage of, however, she has learned to rise above the hatred of others and learned to walk her own path and make her own decisions regardless of what other people think. She uses her own experience and education to help individuals around her going through similar situations and to educate those who do not understand the struggle of racial, sexual, and gender discrimination. 

Raelynn’s career goal is to become a psychiatrist and work within the prison system to rehabilitate inmates and get them the proper mental health assistance that they need. To achieve this goal, she plans on transferring to UC Davis to obtain her bachelor’s degree in psychology and then move on to UC Irvine to work on her master’s and doctorate degrees. 

Outside of school, Raelynn enjoys being active and doing activities such as hiking, kickboxing, and spinning. She spends quality time with friends and attends LGBTQ+ related workshops and events with the Queer-Straight Alliance Club at her college. Once she has achieved her academic and career goals and it comes time to retire, she hopes to one day open her own LGBTQ+ cyber cafe in Los Angeles and create a safe space for everyone to feel accepted.

KHRISTIAN PARIS

Brookdale Community College
Arts
He/Him/His

At twenty-nine years old, Khristian never thought he would overcome the life struggles that once surrounded him day in and day out. Being six years sober, becoming a volunteer EMT, going back to school, and being able to hold down a job and roof over his head has been nothing but a miracle led with the love and support of my partner and her family. Khristian has been able to become a part of his college’s Nation Society of Leadership and Success, obtain goals that he never thought he would have the opportunity to ever achieve, work through mental illness, and leave his past right where it belongs. He has become an over achiever in everything he does. Life has many avenues for Khristian, and he plans to place a footprint in every one of them.

ANTHONY ADERO OLWENY

University of the District of Columbia Community College
Liberal Studies
He/Him/His
Paul C. Phillips Scholarship

Anthony Adero Olweny is a Kenyan born human rights, LGBTQ, and HIV activist who has been living in the United States for nearly eight years. In Kenya as an out gay man living with HIV, Anthony lobbied for improved human rights and access to sexual health information for young gay men, primarily related to the prevention of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV. He worked with a range of non-governmental organizations and the United Nations. He was also a member of the Youth Reference Group at the Global Forum on MSM and HIV.

Anthony has continued his social justice activism and LGBT activism in the United States, working with diverse LGBTIQ and People Living with HIV communities on broader issues related to health, HIV, and LGBTIQ immigration rights, with a focus on overcoming barriers and building resiliency and building community. He is also a frequent guest speaker on the realities of the lives, challenges, and progress of LGBTIQ people in Africa and the diaspora, especially LGBTI immigrants who face unique challenges due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. Some flee persecution in their home countries or have experienced discrimination and trauma in the United States.

Anthony worked as a Client Navigator at the Lifelong AIDS Alliance in Seattle, and before moving to Washington, D.C., to pursue educational opportunities as a non-traditional student. He loves arts and music and nature.

TRAVIS MARTZ

West Los Angeles College
Political Science and Business
He/Him/His
LA Dodgers Scholarship

Born and raised in the South, Travis was the poster child of small-town USA. Coming out at 16 in his football loving town, he braced myself for the fight. Because of an unaccepting religious family, he was out of the house by the age of 17, dropped out of school his junior year, and joined the workforce. Without an education he found himself continuously working any job he could take. Depression led to a suicide attempt. Travis woke up to a three day stay on suicide watch and a gurney ride into rehab. He then traveled to California and landed in the streets. After scrounging and saving for months, while sleeping at bus stops, he was in his own apartment for the first time. Losing that apartment and on the streets again as a 31-year-old man was the last straw. He enrolled at West Los Angeles College (WLAC) not knowing what the future held. A year later, he has reinstalled their Queer & Allies Club and was elected as President, serves on the President’s Student Council Advisory, the LACCD Chancellor’s Advisory Board on LGBTQ+ Affairs, is the Chief Justice in ASO, and a PA in the Dream Resource Center. Travis will transfer next year with his Associate’s in Political Science and Business to move forward in his journey to practice civil rights law for LGBTQ+/minority communities. Changes are coming and Travis intends on being the force behind them.

ASH LÓPEZ

Santa Monica College
Biological Sciences
She/Her/Hers
Wells Fargo Scholarship

Ash López is a proud queer Latina, social good programmer, and hacker. She was born in Los Angeles, but was raised in the rural desert town of Lancaster, CA. In the High Desert, she excelled as a passionate leader as an OUTreach Center board member, the only LGBTQ+ serving nonprofit in the Antelope Valley area. She then collaborated with Q Youth Foundation as a board member and is now serving on the L Project LA’s board. Ash loves making the world a braver + kinder place with Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation as a Channel Kindness Alumni. Currently, Ash is attending Santa Monica College while serving as the founder of the online platform, Queer Trans.Events. She also hacks with Humanistic Technologies, a compassionate organization focused on building life-saving tech, whenever she has the chance.  Aside from being a sweet geek, you can find Ash spending time with her supportive family or listening to her favorite music. As a Point Scholar, Ash is looking forward to transferring into a Computational Neuroscience major with the hopes of becoming an Artificial Intelligence Engineer and an Ethical AI advocate.

AMY LOPEZ

San Diego City College
Fine Arts
They/them/theirs; ella/ellx
Wells Fargo Scholarship

Amy has spent most of their life in West Chula Vista, just 10 minutes away from Tijuana. Their experience as a nonbinary Latinx lesbian of color has led to various aspects of adversity throughout their lives. The intersections of their identity have pushed Amy towards grassroots activism and to understand community resistance as the most important method of securing their own rights, as well as the rights of others. As a first-generation college student, Amy will be the first in their family to graduate from college. They aspire to be a community college professor in order to pass on the compassion and encouragement that their community college art professors provided them. Amy wants to give others the tools they need to fight for their own dreams and love the person they are.

STEPHANIE KING

Diablo Valley College
Nursing
She/Her/Hers
John S. Knudsen Scholarship

Stephanie King is a nursing student at Diablo Valley College. She currently lives in San Leandro, California with her partner, Gabby and her dog, Blu. Stephanie hopes to transfer into a nursing school by the fall of 2021. She discovered her interest in nursing due to her strong love for medical science. She served a term in the BAYAC Americorps with La Clínica de la Raza as a health Educator from 2017-2018. In her free time she likes to cook, go on hikes, and watch movies. She is very passionate about making a difference in her community and helping others.

LAYLA KIMBLES

Riverside City College
Psychology
She/Her/Hers
Wells Fargo Scholarship

Layla was born to a single mother in Downey, California in 1996. She and siblings were placed in and out of foster care growing up and never had any stability. Because of this experience, Layla made it a goal to provide her siblings with love, stability, and make sure they stay on track with their education. Because of the constant moving and responsibilities she was given at a young age, Layla didn’t get to graduate high school, but she never gave up hope on her education.

At 19 she enrolled herself in Valley Adult High School in Lake Elsinore School, California. After approximately two and a half years of dedicated hard work, she received her high school diploma. Two months before she received her diploma, she registered for City College and immediately signed up for Psych 1, at Riverside City College, in Riverside, California. She is now about to complete her fourth semester at RCC working towards her Associates in Psychology with a GPA of 3.1.

After some time at RCC, she joined Alpha Gamma Sigma, which is the honor society of the California Community Colleges system and was just voted to the board as the Event Coordinator. She is a Certified Crisis Counselor and multidisciplinary athlete.

INJI JABER

San Diego City College
Art
She/Her/Hers

Inji Jaber is a 20-year-old Palestinian American working her way through college. She’s currently majoring in Art at San Diego City College with plans to transfer to San Diego State. She has always found a strong connection to art and wants to work as an Art therapist after graduating. Inji grew up in a Muslim household with 7 siblings so at times it was difficult to express and understand the world around her. It was through art that she was able to embrace her sexuality and gain the confidence to grow from her past. Emotions can be difficult and hard to express so she hopes with art therapy people can express what they are going through without having to put it into words. Inji believes that art has the potential to change lives and even more, save lives.

JORGE HERNANDEZ

Miami Dade College
Nuclear Medicine
He/Him/His
Donald Cummins Scholarship

Born in Mexico and then raised in the sunny state of Florida, Jorge Antonio Hernandez grew up as a dreamer destined to turn his dreams into reality. His father was an aspiring artist who against all odds was able to not only achieve his dream of becoming a musician, but also bring up his family along the way with him. Sadly, his father was deported when Jorge was a baby, later leaving Jorge to take place as the man of the house. Faced with adversity for being gay and at the time an undocumented immigrant, he stopped at nothing to make sure that every day that his single mother and two sisters would have something to eat. He took action for himself as well and joined a local charity that had after school programs where local kids in his neighborhood could express themselves freely and receive education assistance if needed. It was there he committed seven years of continuous community service and later received a scholarship for over 10,000 community service hours. It was throughout those years that he saw people he had helped in so much need – in need of food and clothing donations but also in need of healthcare. That put him on the path toward becoming a health care professional. He saw the opportunity to make a difference. His dream is to further his education and someday earn his bachelor’s degree in nuclear medicine technology.

PILAR GARCIA

Columbia State Community College
English
They/Them/Theirs

Pilar Garcia was raised in a rural, conservative town in Tennessee. Being multiracial and openly queer in a town of predominantly conservative values allowed them to help other LGBTQ+ students explore and accept their own identities. Pilar was a prominent staple within the arts: holding leadership positions in the Rocket Band of Blue, acting with their theatre group, the Forrest Players, and attending writing competitions on behalf of the National Beta Convention. Pilar assisted in student government as the Vice President of the Student Council and Treasurer of their local Beta Club. They are currently attending Columbia State Community College, where they plan to further their writing career as an English major with a focus on journalism. Pilar plans to self-publish multiple novels featuring a cast of queer and diverse characters in the near future.

MANUEL FARIA

Miami Dade College
Biology
He/Him/His
Miami Beach Pride Scholarship

Manuel S. Faria was born in Caracas, Venezuela, to a family of immigrants from Maderia, Portugal. He has more recently become an immigrant himself, having moved from Caracas to Miami with the intention of finishing his secondary education and ultimately starting college. Currently, he is pursuing an A.A. in Biology within The Honors Program at Miami Dade College, hoping to transfer to a selective institution. At MDC, he in involved with Planned Parenthood, the STEM Student Association, and Model United Nations, where he serves as a student leader in each. His ultimate goal, however, is to become a board-certified psychiatrist with a private practice that mostly serves low-income families. He is passionate about mental health, sustainability, and social equity. Besides science, Manuel is also deeply interested in economics, sexuality studies, and art history – all of which he loves to read about! If you ever see him, don’t be afraid to approach him, ask him a question, and enjoy a short conversation – he loves to make friends and connect with other people.

JOSHUA ELIZONDO

Santa Monica College
World Diplomacy & Affairs
He/Him/His
Bryan Fitzgerald Scholarship

From Detroit to Los Angeles, Josh Elizondo is a first-generation college student studying World Diplomacy & Affairs at Santa Monica College with intentions to transfer to Occidental College. He has demonstrated himself as a strong, vocal, foster youth advocate (as he grew up in the system himself) and has built a career as an actor/music artist. In his free time, he enjoys hanging out with friends, cuddling with his cat and exploring new places. Josh hopes that with his education and degree, he can bridge the two fields of entertainment with humanitarian advocacy to make a difference through the platform of media. Josh’s promise is to live life powerfully and pioneer a space for communities to unify through their humanity.

HILARY CRUZ

Skyline College
Spanish Language and Literature
She/Her/Hers
Paul C . Phillips Scholarship

Hilary Cruz Mejia, a 19-year old Latinx immigrant from Puerto de Iztapa, Guatemala, a first-generation college student, and a queer poet, sometimes is unable to find meaning in logical language, though poetry with its rhythms and alliterations has been a healing process through her transition in the U.S. She came to the U.S. as a refugee with her sister on August 18, 2016, for the dream to get a higher education and live with her mother, who migrated to the U.S. when she was 6 years old. Growing up in an evangelical belief household, she discovered that her sexual orientation was not at all what her loved ones described her to be. She learned that choosing to be truly herself comes with a high cost, the process becomes challenging, and at some point, all she could wish was for it stop, but she did not go back because the arms wide-open energy went deeply rooted in her self-trust, which has allowed life to unfold, to be what it is, and embrace the emotional blocks, and find trust within herself. In order to maintain a connection with her ancestors, to free herself from all the guilt of choosing to be truly herself, to appreciate every sight of reality, to respect the legacy, and to allow her soul and the soul of the newcomers, she is aspiring to become a Spanish Literature Professor. Now, Hilary is working on her first poetry book, where she encourages her readers to find the guidance of self-transcendence in their lives, and to wear the colors of a pride soul.

AUSTIN BOOZER

Northeast State Community College
English
He/Him/His
Wells Fargo Scholarship

Austin has begun to work with his hometown LGBTQ organizations to develop new youth programs that not only educate the LGBTQ community but raising overall awareness of LGBTQ issues. He also partnered with a local business owner to amplify why LGBTQ people must act and vote for representation that serves the needs of the LGBTQ community in government. He is hosting a registration night in July allowing the community to be educated, able to register for the 2020 election, and have fun at the same time. He is currently in school to become a high school English teacher, believing that youth need diverse role models to aid in educating on issues in our communities.

Austin wants to continue expanding his education and receive a degree in non-profit management. He strongly believes non-profit programs are vital to low-income communities. As data shows a great number of LGBTQ members are in the low-income spectrum due to not having support and left to fend for themselves. Austin feels it is crucial to improve the future of our LGBTQ youth because they will continue to create the path for coming generations in the LGBTQ community. Facing and overcoming bigotry in his life has played a significant role in his success today. He wants to continue being a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves, to be a role model, and help others to become confident in using their own voices.

NANCY BERGER

Roxbury Community College
Biotechnology and Biological Services
She/Her/Hers

Nancy Berger grew up in the heart of Appalachia to a conservative family. With the support and love of her survivor’s community she worked for several years as a Certified Peer Specialist on a mobile crisis team in Boston. She has a passion for science, in particular the intersection of public health and technology and went back to school. She is currently a Biotechnology major at Roxbury Community College in Boston, Massachusetts. This past year she has been an intern at both Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. From these experiences she knows she wants to get into biotech research. In her spare time, she is an activist for change in the mental health system. She volunteers at a mental health program in Boston sharing her lived experience to initiate change and to foster hope with others.

JOLINA BARRON

Northland Pioneer College
Associates of Arts
She/Her/Hers

Jolina Barron is a queer multiracial woman currently living in Holbrook, AZ and attends Northland Pioneer College as a full-time student. She was born in Sewickley, PA but has also spent time living in California, New Mexico, and Arizona. Since her childhood, Jolina has experienced many challenges regarding her identity in her lifetime including bullying from her peers, being a sexual abuse survivor, and living homeless. But these challenges have only motivated her become a strong advocate for issues concerning social justice such as LGBTQ+ homeless youth, women’s rights, and mental health awareness. Her extra-curricular involvement at her college has included serving as Student Government Association secretary and co-founding the PRIDE club. Living in a small town, people who identify as LGBTQ+ are often discriminated against or experience homophobia within their community. Jolina has directed projects that promote LGBTQ+ visibility while also creating a sense of community like organizing soup kitchens and food drives with the PRIDE club. She is currently studying for a transfer degree in Arts, but her next academic goal is to study in Social Work at Northern Arizona University and graduate with a BSW in 2023. After completing her education, Jolina wants to use her degree to connect homeless LGBTQ+ youth to the resources they need to help stabilize their lives and cultivate their futures.

DANNIE BARBOUR

SUNY Orange Community College
Visual Communications
She/Her/Hers
John Hancock Scholarship

Dannie Barbour has been working in human rights since high school. Way back in 1994 she helped a group of fellow students create a club to end racism and sexism everywhere, known as ERASE. Through the years Dannie has continue to build on that foundation. Attending pride events and volunteering throughout the community. In the mid-2000s Dannie went to work for Human Rights Campaign. Walking the streets of Manhattan soliciting contributions for the Human Rights Campaign taught Dannie the value of grassroots education. In 2010 Dannie joined the Warwick Valley Community Center in creating the Orange County New York pride Center and the yearly Orange County Pride event, which is still going strong to this day. Dannie established a grassroots plan to help end bullying, violence and discrimination. It was originally called the Safe Space Initiative and it was run out of the Warwick Valley Community Center. It had such great success locally that with the help of executive director Brian Baird, they launched Safe Space America. Now with the added help of Patricia McMullen and Madison Capo it has become a nationally recognized nonprofit, under the umbrella of Community Together. It has helped many people throughout the country and you can find Safe Space in every state. Dannie is also a loving mother, daughter, and a 4.0 student. She has dedicated her life to making the world a better place and continuing to do that with a new degree in Visual Communications.

DAFNE ARELLANO VILLEGAS

San Diego City College
Ethnic Studies
They/Them/Theirs and She/Her/Hers
Wells Fargo Scholarship

Dafne Arellano Villegas is a brown Pansexual Chicana who was born in San Diego, California. Dafne’s immigrant mother from Mexico raised her three daughters as a single woman who worked two full time jobs as a waitress. Given the circumstances, Dafne grew in poverty and constantly moved around San Diego. The most stability Dafne has experienced is at San Diego City College, where she currently attends, and has a support system for students who grew up just like her that motivate her to use her story for change called the Puente Program. With the help of this program Dafne has thrived and plans to transfer to a four-year university to earn a degree in Ethnic Studies with a minor in Gender Studies. She hopes to attend Law School to become a civil rights lawyer. Her ultimate dream is to work at the ACLU as a Civil Rights Attorney.

NICOLAS ARCE

Miami Dade College
Sociology
He/Him/His

Nicolas is a soul making conscious steps toward a future of joy and success. He is the son of two Ecuadorian immigrants and identifies as a queer individual. While growing up in Miami, Nicolas was inspired by his mother, who works as a housekeeper, and his father, who worked tirelessly in an array of different jobs to sustain his family. Soon after coming out in high school, Nicolas embraced his queerness as a journey of constant learning, growth, and beauty. He is now a student at The Honors College at Miami Dade College studying sociology. Nicolas is a student Senator, past subcommittee chair of the Student Government Association, and a Board Member for the Youth for Environmental Sustainability Club at school. Nicolas is fond of learning about cultural significance and being involved in social causes. He volunteers with the Love the Everglades Movement, an organization dedicated to advocating for and preserving the Greater Everglades. Even though he is unsure of what he wishes to do in the future, Nicolas hopes to work in a career where he is always surrounded by other people and uplifting other individuals. In his free time, Nicolas enjoys riding his longboard, dancing to music, and trying new foods.

MOHAMAD AL KHEN

Richland College
Dallas, TX
Electrical Engineering
Pronouns: He/Him/His

Mohamad was born in Damascus, Syria into a family of one brother and four sisters. He became aware of his sexual orientation around the age of twelve. He and his family moved to Lebanon, Egypt and Saudi Arabia before he left them and moved alone to the United States. He was bullied in high school for being gay and faced the threat of death in Saudi Arabia under the law for being gay. When he arrived in the United States, he spoke no English and quickly had to learn enough words to enroll in English listening, speaking, writing, grammar and reading classes at Richland College. Mohamad is now taking upper level math classes at Richland College with a current 4.0 G.P.A. in his pursuit of a degree in electrical engineering from the University of Texas at Dallas.

CHRISTOS ANASTASOPOULOS

Borough of Manhattan Community College
New York, NY
Liberal Arts
Pronouns: He/Him/His

Christos “Stose” Anastasopoulos is a queer writer, musician, and visual artist from Charlottesville, Virginia. He is now located in Brooklyn, NY where he is a full-time student that also works in television production. He usually spends his free time recording or performing with his band, whose songs cover issues of sexuality, gender identity, and social injustice. He has also spent time interacting with queer communities in places around the world, such as Egypt and Kenya, which has influenced his writing and inspired him to use his voice to shed light on issues that have been pushed into the shadows. Christos is actively pursuing a career in screenwriting and hopes to tell the stories of underrepresented queer identities, expanding the portrayal of the LGBTQ community in media.

GIGI ANDREWS

Grossmont College
Cajon, CA
Psychology
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Gigi Andrews is a 33-year-old student at Grossmont Community College in El Cajon, California. Coming out as gay at fourteen wasn’t easy for her. She was bullied and harassed to the point that she dropped out of high school and received her GED instead. At 21, Gigi was diagnosed with HIV, which left her devastated. Coming out again as transgender in her mid-20s wasn’t easy either. Overcoming such adversity has given her the courage to persevere when times get tough. Gigi has done public speaking gigs at UCSD on the topic of HIV. She has completed cosmetology school and has received a cosmetology license. Despite the immense amount of adversity that she has faced in her life, Gigi has been able to take that adversity and turn it around to be a productive, contributing member to society. Having worked as a peer counselor in a clinical setting, Gigi wants further her career in mental health and become a licensed clinical psychologist. Gigi plants on receiving an AA in psychology from Grossmont College in the spring of 2020, then transfer to a UC or California State University in the fall of 2020 to pursue a master’s degree in psychology.

JASPER BENNER

Cosumnes River College
Sacramento, CA
Psychology
Pronouns: He/Him/His

Jasper Benner is transgender and queer. He is a transgender, Black Lives Matter, and mental health advocate. He is a psychology major that plans on transferring from community college to UC Davis. After graduating, his ultimate dream is to get accepted into UC Berkeley’s clinical psychology doctorate program. His eventual career goal is to work at a mental health hospital in the Sacramento region, helping people with serious mental illness. He also hopes to work for LGBT nonprofits as an affordable therapist to the queer community. He loves reading, being able to go to college, and helping people however he can.

JASZ CABRERA

Grossmont College
El Cajon, CA
Art – Technical Theater
Big Apple Recreational Sports Scholarship
Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs

Jasz Kuyate Cabrera is a costume design student in technical theatre. They are a non-binary trans student and a two term President of Grossmont College’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Club. As SOGI Club’s President, they have overseen the expansion of visibility of LGBTQIA+ students and faculty on campus by promoting the safety of coming out for closeted students. They hope to continue their education in costume design and construction to work in theatres for many different cultures and to eventually grow as a designer. Their final goal is to build a clothing company centered around androgynous unisex clothing.

KARIN CARRILLO

Seattle Central Community College
Seattle, WA
Nursing
Pronouns: He/Him/His

Karin is a proud Latino, first-generation college student and immigrant, native Spanish-speaker, and gay-identified man. Born and raised for the first seven years of his life in rural Mexico, he became a naturalized U.S. Citizen in 2015. Adversity has led Karin to earn his badge of honor as a “non-traditional” student. Kicked out of his family home at 18 years old as a gay teenager, he had to serve as his own emotional and financial support system. His hopes of pursuing university studies were dashed by the need to seek full-time employment to cover necessary living expenses.

Karin is now in a beautiful and loving relationship with his husband. His world has changed quite significantly since the first years of his adulthood. In 2017, after much thought and careful consideration, Karin returned to school to pursue his passion of serving the healthcare needs of Latinx communities. Excelling in his studies and carving out a space for himself in the Puget Sound health community, he is resoundingly excited to pursue a degree in Nursing with the same sense of dedication, determination, and focus he has always maintained. Focusing on issues of intersectionality and the increased challenges facing particular LGBT communities, Karin has chosen to engage with organizations that focus their efforts on serving LGBT-identifying people of color, immigrant and lower-income populations. As a nurse, drawing from his own lived experience and academic and professional training, Karin looks forward to serving the medical and social support needs of these communities.

ANDREAS COPES

Community College of Philadelphia
Philadelphia, PA
Mass Media
CarGurus Scholarship
Pronouns: He/Him/His

Andreas is an immigrant, he is gay, and is a student. When Andreas came to the US – more specifically, Philadelphia – he did not know that he would stay, let alone get married. He considers that decision to be the greatest of his life. He met fantastic people at college and in the city and is on his way to becoming a journalist. After graduating from the Community College of Philadelphia, he will continue his academic pathway at Philadelphia’s Temple University. Andreas is a Phi Theta Kappa public relations officer and a host for the Community College of Philadelphia TV channel. He is also a husband and dog father.

ALAN CRUZ

College of Southern Nevada
Las Vegas, NV
Criminal Justice
Pronouns: He/Him/His or They/Them/Theirs

Alan Cruz is first-generation, disabled, queer, Latinx, and Indigenous (Zapotec Oaxacan) student activist. Alan studies criminal justice and hopes in the future to become a public defender and immigration attorney, as well as eventually run for office in the state of Nevada. Alan works as a national student organizer with Advocates for Youth where he has lobbied Congress for the past two years on various issues including LGBTQ+ youth, comprehensive sex education, a clean DREAM act, and to stop the confirmation of now SCOTUS Justice Kavanaugh. He also has done previous work in his community attempting to lobby and advocate for a comprehensive sex-education bill to include LGBTQ+ youth within the curriculum during the 2017 and 2019 legislative sessions in Nevada. Alan also does work with a state-wide youth initiative, as he helped co-found the Nevada Youth Activist Alliance. NYAA hosts an advocacy training at their local university and brings 150+ youth to the state capitol of Nevada to lobby for the issues that impact young people. Alan strives for creating an equitable environment where all marginalized folks can succeed in a healthy and safe environment free of violence. Alan currently does work with his new organization, Project Youthquake, which is a global organization that does work with connecting youth to collaborate on projects while also allowing young people to access advocacy tool-kits to execute projects within their own communities. Even though he is only 18, Alan wants to continue the work he does to ensure that the work and voices marginalized folks are amplified and heard – especially young LGBTQ+ youth of color.

STEPHEN DAVIS

Malcolm X College
Chicago, IL
Nursing
Pronouns: He/Him/His

Stephen was lucky enough to have accepting parents when he came out as gay in 2001, but the homophobia in the small town he grew up in drove him to bigger cities and experiences. He has lived in various places, from the northeast in Vermont, to NYC where he went to the Paul Mitchel Academy, to Orlando Florida, and then San Diego California, which is where he was living when he received the call that his mother, a nurse, had committed suicide. This returned Stephen back home to Pennsylvania, where he became a licensed practical nurse, receiving honors while being pinned as a Practical Nurse. Each year since the passing of his mother, he attends a suicide walk for prevention called “Walk a Mile in my Shoes”.  The year he graduated Practical nursing, he won first prize for the largest group and collecting the largest amount of money for the year 2015 to help with suicide prevention.  That year, Stephen moved to NH to be closer to his biological father.  NH is where he met his fiancé, a medical student in his third year at Feinberg school of medicine at Northwestern University, whom he has been with since 2016.  Stephen has worked as a nurse since 2015 and plans to continue his education after graduating as a RN and become a pediatric nurse practitioner.  In his spare time, Stephen snowboards, sketches, and plays the piano, guitar, and sings. He likes to bring his dog, an Irish-Wolf hound/Akita mix, to care facilities for therapy for patients.

EMILY GREENLEE

Diablo Valley College
Pleasant Hill, CA
Theater and Acting
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Emily Greenlee is an acting student currently working on her transfer degree in acting at Diablo Valley Community College. She is hoping to pursue her Bachelors of Arts in acting from a four year university. Since she was five years old she has known that acting is her calling.  During her senior year of high school, she was in a production of “The Laramie Project,” a drama about the murder of Matthew Shepard. This experience telling such an important story really showed her how much she can touch the lives of others through acting. She hopes that she can continue this journey exploring her art form at a four-year college.

KENMEL GUZMAN

Miami Dade College
Miami, FL
STEM
Miami Beach Pride Scholarship
Pronouns: He/Him/His

Kenmel Guzman is a STEM AA major at Miami Dade College. He is from Honduras and came to the United States in 2010. He graduated from Coral Gables Senior High School in the top 30% of his class. After Miami Dade College, Kenmel plans to transfer to four-year accredited university to earn his bachelor’s in biology and later on pursue a Doctorate in Medicine. Aside from his academics, he is a devoted student leader, partakes in extra-curriculars, and volunteers in various event and projects around campus. He is a Senator and newly elected President of the Student Government Association, as well as a member of the honorary Phi Theta Kappa chapter at MDC. Kenmel’s well-rounded individualism, attention to detail, and excellent communication skills differentiates him from others. Outside of school, you can find Kenmel at an art gallery as he is fascinated by the visual arts. He also indulges himself in the world of literature, historical dramas, and novellas. He loves playing volleyball and loves cooking. Kenmel believes optimism is a happiness magnet; if he maintains himself as positive and happy, good people and good things will be attracted to him.

SOPHIA JIMENEZ

San Jacinto Community College
Houston, TX
Nursing
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Sophia Renee Jimenez is a 25-year-old transgender young woman whose mission is to inspire people to be their best possible selves. She grew up in a home where she was abused for not being what others expected of her, and as a young adult suffered from low self-esteem and a negative self-image. Through life experiences, Sophia came to understand that a person’s worth and beauty isn’t based on sexual preference or physical appearance, but rather on personal character and values. As a future nurse, Sophia will be able to help people not only feel better on the outside, but on the inside as well. Being a part of the Point Foundation will allow her to spread her message of self-love and inspire many.

JACK JORDAN

Broward Community College
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Social Work
Equality Florida Scholarship
Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs

Jack Lee Jordan identifies as black-latinx, non-binary, queer, and disabled person who was born and raised in Miami. Jack Jordan is an accomplished youth advocate with more than ten years of experience with organizations that have youth development programs in South Florida. They started doing activism work in their early teens to help medical professionals, teachers, social workers, and most important of all, parents, accept their queer and trans children. Their work has now expanded to focus on queer/trans liberation, healthy relationships, queer history, and risk-aware safer sex. With this focus they are committed to facilitating and empowering queer and trans youth living in South Florida to make active changes in their own communities. They are a member of Maven Leadership Collective, a program that centers QTPOC leaders in communities and helps develop their professional skills and networks with a focus on self-care.

NOEH JUAREZ

Fullerton College
Fullerton, CA
Anthropology
Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs

Noeh is a full-time student and worker in Fullerton California with a part time job in professional drag. Noeh is majoring in Anthropology in hopes of concentrating their major in Sex and Gender Studies. They currently hold four associate degrees in the Social Sciences. While at Fullerton college, Noeh has been an active member of the school’s book club and the president of the Anthropology club on campus. Noeh hopes to transfer to either Berkeley or UCLA. After graduating, Noeh wishes to work within the field and do fieldwork for the LGBTQ homeless youth situation in San Francisco.

MADDIE KLEMENTYN

Portland Community College
Portland, OR
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Maddie Klementyn was born in India and came to Oregon to complete her visit to all fifty states. She stayed in the Pacific North West because she enjoyed the winters. She enjoys building and playing synthesizers, as well as playing disc golf. Maddie aspires to work in the horticultural automation sector. After finishing her degree, Maddie hopes to work in the agricultural technology field until she can start her own company. She enjoys building and programming automation machines, and wants to use this knowledge towards feeding the world.

OLIVE MCGUIRE

Pasco-Hernando State College
New Port Richey, FL
Women and Gender Studies
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Olive McGuire has lived in New Port Richey, Florida for most of her life, and it has allowed her to see the need for change. As such, she is involved with politics through her presidency of the Democratic Women’s club of Pasco, tackles LGBTQ+ issues through her position as volunteer coordinator of Pasco Pride and vice president of P.R.I.D.E., and helps teenagers and young adults through mentorship, volunteer coordinating, and monitoring the teen center at Youth Haven of New Port Richey. In her free time, Olive enjoys reading and taking long walks and listening to podcasts.

RODRIGO MENDEZ

Palm Beach State College
Palm Beach, FL
Psychology
Donald Cummins Scholarship
Pronouns: He/Him/His

Rodrigo Mendez was born in Miami, Florida. Both of Rigo’s parents are immigrants; his mother is from Dominican Republic and his father is from Colombia. Rigo is a student at Palm Beach State College studying Psychology. He aspires to work in clinical and art therapy to help LGBTQ people of color of all ages. Rigo enjoys swimming and Jiu Jitsu. His favorite forms of art are theater, film, and literature. Rigo volunteers for art museums, activities for his community, and at the local LGBT center.

ELISE OLEKSIAK

LaGuardia Community College
Queens, NY
Occupational Therapy
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Elise Oleksiak is a sober pansexual woman living in Brooklyn, NYC and attending LaGuardia Community College in Queens. For years she worked in Film/TV as a commercial video editor, while suffering from debilitating depression and addiction. In 2015, Elise found sobriety and began doing volunteer work in the city by helping children with autism train for a 5K, and she found that the combination of working with children and physical fitness was her true calling. She is now over 3 years sober, has spent a year teaching kids to surf and do yoga in Central America, and is now back in NYC pursuing her dream of becoming a Pediatric Occupational Therapist. She recently had open heart surgery and went on to become a NASM-certified personal trainer just a few months later, making a full recovery and setting personal records for her own physical fitness. One day at a time, she hopes to make the world around her a better place by helping people heal through exercise and movement.

AMMO RAYNE

Fullerton College
Fullerton, CA
Theater Arts
Pronouns: He/Him/His

Ammo Rayne is a transgender and pansexual father of three. He is a writer, makeup artist, and photographer with a passion for bringing unity and self-acceptance to the LGBTQ+ community.  He has committed himself to utilizing the arts to assist community members in their self-exploration. Through an understanding of sociology, gender and sexuality studies, as well as personal experience, he seeks to encourage and uplift those who lack support. His background is ultra conservative Appalachia, and his own coming out was rife with turmoil and negative experiences. He has experienced housing and job discrimination, homelessness, and abuse, but that did not deter him. He pushed forward, continuing his education and achieving a place in Phi Theta Kappa. He believes these experiences have given him a platform to uplift others and hopes to publish both his autobiography as well as a book of poetry that explores these heavy topics in the near future. His goal is to build up his generation so that they might leave a legacy of peace, strength, and safety for their childrens’ generation, and those that follow after.

ASH TEBAR

Bronx Community College
Bronx, NY
Liberal Arts
Mae Nicholes Memorial Point Scholarship
Pronouns: He/Him/His or They/Them/Theirs

Ash Tebar was born and raised in the South Bronx. He wants to become a Recreational Therapist so he can better support the needs of the LGBTQIA+ Community. Being a transgender, pansexual, Latinx man with a learning disability, he is no stranger to struggle. However, he uses his lived experience to be the representation he feels is lacking in the world. With a brave face and forever moving forward, Ash wants to help people who have disabilities, ranging from cognitive, to physical, mental, and emotional. He plans on putting a fun and interesting spin on therapy by using art and animal-assisted therapy. He hopes that this will be a much need respite for the LGBTQIA+ community and that he can provide of space of healing.

IZZY THOMAS

Pasadena City College
Pasadena, CA
Civil/Environmental Engineering
Pronouns: He/Him/His

Izzy Thomas is a 20 year old student who was born and raised in New York, New York. After moving to Los Angeles in 2016, Izzy came out as trans and unfortunately faced a lot of backlash from family and friends. Despite experiencing lots of transphobia in his personal life, Izzy has been a dedicated student and is currently working towards a degree in Civil Engineering. His long-term goals involve developing and refining wind turbine design and other forms of renewable energy, as well as to encourage more transgender people to seek careers in STEM fields. Though it has been tough being one of few LGBT students in his engineering classes, Izzy is hopeful that his presence and his experiences will pave the way for future trans STEM students.

DANIEL TROVATO

Community College of Baltimore County
Essex, MD
Criminal Justice
Pronouns: He/Him/His

Daniel Trovato has always dreamed big, but throughout his academic career, he has begun to dream even bigger. Daniel found his passion for research and academia as a researcher at Johns Hopkins University in the summer of 2018. He is grateful for the guidance from professors at the Community College of Baltimore County, Dr. Melissa Lane and Dr. Cheryl Scott, as well as the Johns Hopkins Director of Undergraduate Research Dr. Natalie Strobach. Daniel believes she saw something in him that he did not: potential. Daniel aspires to earn a PhD in criminology for the betterment of his community, and to be the first PhD recipient in his family. He plans to come up with suitable ways to resolve the issues plaguing the city of Baltimore. Daniel hopes to better his community and be an inspiration to all who have been oppressed growing up and did not know what to do.

JAIME TRUZMAN

Santa Fe College
Gainesville, FL
Hospitality Management
Terry Longmore Scholarship
Pronouns: He/Him/His

Jaime Truzman was born in Caracas, Venezuela and raised in Isla de Margarita, Venezuela. Throughout his years in school in his home country, he suffered from many bullying experiences. Moving to the United States at the age of 15 was a big change, which allowed him the opportunity to come out as gay to his family and friends. Jaime hopes to be a voice for younger adolescents that are suffering from homophobia, even though he lived through difficult moments during elementary school and high school. Jaime is achieving goals in Santa Fe College, where he is a Student Ambassador. He hopes to transfer next year to the prestigious Rosen College of Hospitality Management of the University of Central Florida to obtain a bachelors in hospitality management.

LUIS VERBERA

West Valley College
Saratoga, CA
Business Administration
John Hancock Scholarship
Pronouns: He/Him/His

Luis Verbera is an aspiring business person with big plans for the future. With his mother working as a teacher of children with special needs, and a father who is a food service worker, Luis has learned the importance of working for what you want. Luis is pursuing a degree in Business Administration and has entrepreneurial aspirations. Born and raised in San Jose, California, the hustle and bustle of the Silicon Valley has shown Luis the flaws with modern large-scale corporations. Luis plans on creating a workspace where workers are treated fairly and with respect as more than just employees, but rather equal human beings. Unfortunately, Luis has suffered from the “machismo mentality” that many other Hispanic individuals have suffered from as well. Luis has always suppressed his true self in order to align to cultural norms. However, this suffering has made Luis stronger and he plans to take on this mindset firsthand and hopefully help others struggling like him along the way. Luis is a biracial, queer individual who believes that there is not enough open representation of similar individuals in the modern, corporate workforce. After transferring to a four-year university in the Fall of 2020 and later receiving his degree, Luis plans on experiencing corporate America firsthand, and then changing it into a more equal playing field for all individuals regardless of background.

GABRIELLE ZWI

Montgomery College
Rockville, MD
Political Science and Music
Bryan Fitzgerald Scholarship
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Gabrielle Zwi proudly identifies herself as a queer Jewish Latina with chronic illness and mental disorders. Growing up at the intersection of so many issues and identities has instilled in her a deep appreciation for the importance of intersectionality in any social justice work. Gabrielle strives to amplify voices that have not been heard, through music as well as more conventional forms of advocacy. She believes that music can change hearts and minds, so she writes and sings songs that promote peace and acceptance, whether they’re songs directly about her experiences with activism, or typical-seeming love songs that happen to normalize queer relationships. Gabrielle recently released her first album, “Without a Label,” comprised of eight original songs which do exactly that. Outside of her musical pursuits, Gabrielle is the founder and lead organizer of DC Teens Action, a group that aims to unify students from all over the DC area for social action and civic engagement projects across a broad range of causes and experiences. She also serves as a Commissioner on the Human Rights Commission of the City of Rockville, Maryland. Gabrielle is currently a student at Montgomery College in Rockville, where she studies Music and Political Science in the Scholars Circle Honors Program. She is planning to transfer to a four-year university after getting her associate’s degree from Montgomery College, and hopes to attend law school after that.

JOSE ARANGO

Miami Dade College
Miami, FL
Business and Management
Miami Beach Gay Pride Scholarship Recipient
Pronouns: He/Him/His

Jose Arango was born and raised in Medellin, Colombia. When he was a high schooler in Colombia, homophobia and “machismo” made him a victim of bullying after making public his relationship with another student. However, he turned it into a growing experience that helped him acquire a profound sense of justice and the desire to help other queer Latinx students. Jose moved to the United States at the age of 17 and found an opportunity to be open about his sexuality. Although he initially lived in California, family problems led him to relocate to Florida, where he enrolled in college. He is the Co-Vice President of The Pride Club at Miami Dade College Wolfson campus and actively coordinates and participates in events for LGBTQ youth. Jose hopes to transfer to a four-year university, major in business administration, and with the help of his twin brother, start their own business.

MELISSA ARIZOLA

San Joaquin Delta College
Stockton, CA
Psychology
California Endowment Scholarship Recipient
Pronouns: She, Her, Hers

Melissa Arizola is a first-generation college student born in Stockton, California. At the age of 9, she moved to Arkansas for several years but came back to California to escape a toxic family predicament. When she and her family arrived back, they were homeless for a couple of years. During this time, Melissa’s determination and drive to succeed in school increased as did her commitment to making a difference for her family. She is a psychology major at San Joaquin Delta College and plans on transferring to obtain her bachelor’s by fall of 2021. Afterward, she plans to pursue her law degree and become a criminal defense lawyer. Melissa is passionate about reading, giving back to my community, and taking care of the homeless. Being an active member of Stockton’s LGBTQIA community, she has hopes of one day being politically involved toward the betterment and justice for her community. More recently, she obtained an internship at the California Rural Legal Assistance law firm in Stockton, CA. CRLA offers services to underrepresented individuals like migrant workers, school children, members of the LGBTQIA community, immigration populations, seniors, and those with disabilities. This position at CRLA is Melissa’s first step in making a difference for those in her community.

SOPHIA BAUTISTA

Fresno City College
Fresno, CA
Political Science
California Endowment Scholarship Recipient
Pronouns: She, Her, Hers

Sophia Bautista is a 19-year-old woman from Davao City, Philippines. Residing in Fresno, California, she has proven countless times – in the words of Langston Hughes – that “I, too, sing America.” She founded “Activ8,” a voting initiative that seeks to galvanize young people to vote in the 2018 midterm elections. She is also a member of the March for Our Lives advocacy group in Fresno. Sophia has coordinated marches, protests, voter registration drives, town halls, and pride events. She is also the first to create and spearhead “voting parties” in her district; an original project that aims to increase voter turnout by turning civic duty into a social bonding celebration. She also is a member of Fresno City College’s Speech and Debate team and has won local and regional awards with them. She has also published multiple LGBT pieces in literary magazines such as the Fresno State Chicano Literary Magazine and the Fresno City College Review. Sophia admires the bravery and courage of the LGBT community and the work they have done to bring her to the table — “they, too, sing America.”

EV CAMPOS

Santa Monica College
Santa Monica, CA
Sociology
Wells Fargo Scholarship Recipient
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Evelyn “Ev” Campos is an LGBT Latina community college student whose career goal is to be a professor and/or an academic counselor. Ev choose to study sociology to get a full understanding of the way society works, how certain groups are affected, and the social problems that have been created. Ev wants to use her academic standing and my background as a platform to advocate for future students, as well as create resources, safe spaces, and provide an excellent education to students of color so they can excel both academically and personally. Ev hopes to close gaps that society has created, and provide unity between different groups.

KYLE CASTEEL

Ivy Tech Community College
Indianapolis, IN
Policy Studies
Wells Fargo Scholarship Recipient
Pronouns: He/Him/His

Kyle Casteel is an Indianapolis-based political organizer, community activist, and nontraditional student. His commitment to intersectional social justice and progressive politics has taken him around the Hoosier state and across the Midwest. He returned to his studies at Ivy Tech Community College in 2017 and has been accepted to a four-year institution for Spring 2019. Kyle previously worked with Indiana Youth Group, one of the nation’s largest service providers for LGBTQ youth. He has also been a part of campaigns and coalitions to bring civil rights, hate crimes protections, and an end to conversion therapy to the queer community in Indiana. A first-generation college student, Kyle will complete his studies at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He plans to use a degree in policy studies to continue advocating for his and other marginalized communities in his home state and beyond.

DYLAN CHANG

Edmonds Community College
Lynnwood, WA
International Business
Wells Fargo Scholarship Recipient
Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs

Dylan Chang is a 17-year-old non-binary queer. They are an international student from Taiwan studying at Edmonds Community College in Seattle, Washington. Before coming to the United States, Dylan assisted with the biggest gay pride celebration in Taiwan and then came out to their parents the next day. Asian parents tend to be more conservative than their American peers, and they don’t have much knowledge about LGBTQ communities. Dylan’s parents didn’t take it well and asked for some time to process things. So, Dylan decided to get an education in the U.S. The cultural shock and language barrier have not stopped Dylan from chasing their America dream. At first, it was very hard for Dylan to be alone in America without any family, but, along with school, they became involved in LGBTQ community. The distance from Taiwan to America really helped Dylan to fix the relationship with their parents. Dylan looks forward to graduating with a bachelor’s degree in five years and then to work for a company or LGBTQ organizations in the U.S.

YI-VONNE CHONG

Bellingham Technical College
Bellingham, WA
Mechanical Engineering/Instrumentation and Controls Technology
Wells Fargo Scholarship Recipient
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Yi-Vonne Chong grew up in the city of Miri on Borneo Island and moved to the United States at the age of 22. Yi-Vonne serves as the Director of Communications for the Associated Students of Bellingham Technical College where she plans fun events, poignant, thoughtful panel discussions, and community engagement with her team members. She co-founded the Gender and Sexuality Alliance club with like-minded students to promote diversity and inclusion on campus. In her spare time, Yi-Vonne likes to tinker and build electronic circuits, fix bicycles, play the ukulele, and make things at the local makerspace workshop.

ELIANA CHRISTIANSON

University of Hawaii, Windward Community College
Kane‘ohe, HI
Journalism/Creative Media
Wells Fargo Scholarship Recipient
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Eliana resides in Oahu, Hawaii where she has been fortunate enough to foster a relationship with the ‘aina (land) as well as pursue her passions in journalism and environmental sustainability. Eliana’s academic and personal goals are fundamentally based on her desire to be of service to others and the Earth we call home. As Editor-in-Chief of her college newspaper, she implemented a “Sustainability Matters” column where news about environmental efforts on campus and around the community are highlighted. Eliana plans to use her career in global journalism to inform people around the world about sustainable practices, our connection with one another, and our responsibility to steward the land. She does not feel the need to label herself based on her sexual preference and hopes to break the stigma attached to questioning one’s sexual orientation.

ALISHA DAVIS

Whatcom Community College
Bellingham Washington
Wells Fargo Scholarship Recipient
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Alisha Avila Davis was born in Seattle, Washington and now lives in Bellingham, Washington with her two children, and partner. She is currently working on her transfer degree at Whatcom Community College and will transfer to a university to obtain a degree in political science and art. She is passionate about social justice, the environment, awareness, communication, and expression through art. Alisha hopes to work with recovering addicts and those trapped in the legal system with addiction and mental health issues. When she was in high school, education seemed like an impossible task that she had no desire to complete. With all of the pressures of society weighing heavily on her, Alisha spent many years trying to discover herself in private. Now, years later, she is one woman who is rarely quiet, timid, or concerned about how people will view her. Alisha went from being unsure how to speak to people at all, to giving speeches on behalf of her campus, program, and for the Gender and Sexuality Alliance. Education has been her salvation, and she has gained insight on her passions, self-awareness, goals, and how to be true to herself without the societal expectations of what a mixed race black woman “should “be. Alisha now actively finds ways to break away from the norm, get out of her comfort zone, and to be vocal for those who have yet to find their voice.

KEITH DIXSON

Antelope Valley College
Lancaster, CA
Computer Science
Wells Fargo Scholarship Recipient
Pronouns: He/Him/His

Keith Dixson was born and raised in the city of Compton, CA, in a single-mother home. He graduated from high school at age 15 and soon came out to his family. Renounced by his family for being gay, he became an emancipated minor. Attending college became a struggle while trying to support himself financially and he dropped out of school to pursue full-time employment. After 12 years, Keith re-enrolled in college at Antelope Valley College as the first step to earning his much-awaited Associate’s degree in Computer Science. Keith plans on transferring to one of the UC or Cal State Universities to complete his bachelor’s degree accompanied by a minor in petroleum engineering. He has been an active member of the LGBT community, volunteering at pride events, and during testing promotions for Guiding Right. Keith’s post-educational goal is to start a nonprofit promoting the equal rights of LGBT teens and preparing them with the skills needed to be productive adults.

CATIE GUDINO

Moreno Valley College
Moreno Valley, CA
English & Film
California Endowment Scholarship Recipient
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers or They/Them/Their

Catherine (Catie) Gudiño is a first-generation student to a single-family household who holds a strong passion for literature, film, history, and progressivism and hopes to be an English professor someday. With a robust devotion to activism, advocacy work, and civic engagement they hope to devote their life to mobilizing the continuous campaign for human rights, especially socially and throughout the educational system. Seeing firsthand the potential their family members possess and could have implemented into their educational pathway, had financial issues not persisted, they hope to succeed in ways not available to the rest of their family in order to make them proud and give them the voice they missed out on because of systematic economic barriers. Catherine currently attends Moreno Valley College with hopes of transferring to Berkeley, University of Riverside or UCLA. At their current college, they work one-on-one with students to help develop their writing skills, also taking it in their hands to incorporate inclusive skills for writing that embrace queer individuals. As a committed advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, Catherine partakes in annual college-held events like Drag 101: Performing Gender where the entire school is invited to a drag show and panel. Producing sanctuary spaces for students to ask questions and become informed on the specifics or misconceptions of LGBTQ+ life allows for embracing of differences rather than just toleration, indifference, or hostility. As a queer person of color, Catherine hopes to mend the institutionalized gaps for those who find themselves in similar states of uncertainty for their educational goals as them.

ROBERT GUTIERREZ

Pasadena City College
Pasadena, CA
Computer Science
Wells Fargo Scholarship Recipient
Pronouns: He/Him/His

Robert Gutierrez was born in Pasadena, California and raised in El Monte, California. When he was 2 years old, his mother died from complications of diabetes. He struggled through hardships such as bullying because of his sexuality, child molestation by a family member for six years, and when he was 15 years old and a high school freshman he lost his father to stomach cancer. Through great support of therapy, family, teachers, and counselors Robert had enough determination to pursue excellence in high school. He is the first person in his family to graduate high school and attend college; participating in Pasadena City College’s Honors Program. Robert is passionate about being an LGBT leader and role model for LGBT youth. He believes that teachers and students can work together to improve curriculum so that students have a better learning experience. He is already acting to improve education by working with Project P.A.S.S for the Monrovia Unified School District, where he tutors students. Robert is also doing personal independent studies and surveys focusing on improving math education through unique teaching styles and the use of computer science as a tool for homework assistance when tutoring is not available.

TAYLER HAMMOND

Merritt College
Oakland, CA
Administration of Justice
Wells Fargo Scholarship Recipient
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Tayler has bounced all-around California since graduating high school almost 10 years ago, but finally found her home and grew roots in Oakland, California. During her time in Oakland, she has worked at charter schools, public schools, and multiple nonprofits teaching outdoor education, gardening, and socio-emotional skills to children in underserved neighborhoods. Her students taught her invaluable lessons, but as she moved on into the higher education sector, one lesson has stuck with her: humans and the outdoors are meant to be together, and that exposure to nature (or lack thereof) deeply impacts individual behavior and society as a whole. This idea, combined with a succinct passion and interest in criminal justice, has shaped her future educational plans. Tayler plans on majoring in criminal behavioral forensics with the intention of one day studying the links between environmental issues and criminal behavior, and possibly creating a nonprofit that fights recidivism and directly serves her Oakland community.

MARI HUNTER

North Central Texas College
Gainsville, TX
General Studies
Wells Fargo Scholarship Recipient
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Mari came out to herself, her family, and close friends during her senior year of high school. She went on to participate in an LGBT+ teen group at a local church. After graduating high school, she decided that a community college would be the best fit for her. Mari went on to study her first college history classes and met with other LGBT+ students at her campus. She has seen students being ignored for their identity or sexuality because of the idea that it is a fad. Mari plans on developing her love of history in order to benefit the LGBT+ community and dismantle the idea that LGBT+ individuals have only shown up recently.

CARLOS IBARRA

LaGuardia Community College
New York, NY
Human Services/Mental Health
Jerry & Diane Cunningham Scholarship Recipient
Pronouns: He/Him/His

Carlos Ibarra was born in Colombia and migrated to the United States when he was 6 years old. He faced many personal challenges since a very young age. His father was an abusive alcoholic that would fall asleep at the apartment door, forcing Carlos to have to sleep at diners on a school night. Carlos buried himself in books and his studies to get away from the reality of life. Unfortunately, he struggled with mental illness for many years without receiving any help from family or friends. He began to self-medicate, and his academic life went downhill. It took him a number of years to finally get a hold of his illness through psychopharmacology, exercise, a balanced diet, and a great therapist. Today he is working hard to achieve his academic, personal and professional goals. He achieved Dean’s List and became a member of Phi Theta Kappa as well as Delta Alpha Pi, the honor society for Students with Disabilities. Finally, now in his fourth decade of life, Carlos can say he is living a dream he never thought possible.

QUINN JILES

Lansing Community College
Lansing, MI
Art History
Wells Fargo Scholarship Recipient
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Quinn is a native to the south side of Chicago. Growing up in a black, Catholic home, she knew that being a black bisexual woman would become a barrier and burden in her community. Quinn felt isolated in her community and turned to the holistic arts. As a holistic esthetician and artist, she was able to find a sense of belonging. Now in her 30s, Quinn has resumed her pursuits of community arts leadership. She is the founder of a youth after-school film project to forge community building for vulnerable young people through the arts. Quinn is currently pursuing a degree in art history with plans to continue in art; therapy.

LISA LACHAPELLE-NARANJO

Sacramento City College
Sacramento, CA
Nursing
California Endowment Scholarship Recipient
Pronouns: She, Her, Hers

Elizabeth LaChapelle-Naranjo is a college student, wife and mother of a handsome 2-year-old son. She went back to school in her late 30s to go after her dream of becoming a nurse practitioner. She has had many ups and downs in life, but they have all made her the person she is today. She wants people to look at her and hear her story and know anything is possible with the right people around you and people who love you for who you are. This may not always be your blood relatives and may be the family you build yourself. She loves helping those in need. She finds the greatest pleasure in bringing smiles to people’s faces and making them feel that they have a voice. She wants to be able to spread as much love and joy as possible because life is already too hard as it is. Why not enjoy the life we have every day instead of waiting till we are almost out of time?

ETHAN LARES-SALINAS

College of the Desert
Palm Desert, CA
Political Science
Wells Fargo Scholarship Recipient
Pronouns: He/Him/His

Ethan Lares-Salinas is the first in his family to seek higher education in a university setting. He plans on getting doctorates degrees in political science and government. His goal is to become a politician so that he can serve and represent his community and the disenfranchised. Ethan wants not just to witness change, but play a role in making change. He is attending community college to obtain an AA-T in political science with the goal of transferring to a four-year university. Ethan is currently interning with his congressman, Dr. Raul Ruiz of California’s 36th District. The experience has shown him that his dreams are absolutely possible and that change and progress are upon us. Ethan looks to the future with an optimistic mind and sees himself as being a catalyst that makes it happen.

LUNA LUND

Folsom Lake College
Folsom, CA
Sociology
California Endowment Scholarship Recipient
Pronouns: They, Them, Theirs

Luna Lund is genderqueer and bisexual. They are a poet and a Student Equity Advocate at Folsom Lake College. They are passionate about social justice, equity, and diversity and have committed their life to advocating for change and supporting marginalized students. They are a sociology major, but they also have a love for anthropology, history, and creative writing. In their free time, they like to read, write, watch YouTube and Netflix and listen to podcasts. They also love music and animals and spending time with friends and family. Within the next five years, they hope to publish a book of poetry, attend UC Davis, and get a bachelor’s degree in sociology. Then they plan to go to graduate school and get a master’s degree in social work.

OMID MEHRAGE

Diablo Valley College
Pleasant Hill, CA
Business Administration
California Endowment Scholarship Recipient
Pronouns: He/Him/His

The most important thing in Omid’s life is to be different. All of the greatest changes made by people in this world came from those who were different from everyone else. Many were called outcasts, and society shunned many. When it comes to identity in race, sexuality, gender orientation, ethnicity, and religion out-casting is present in many different groups. Omid strives to rise above all the differences. As a future business leader, he wants those he manages to know that they are represented not by what permanently defines them but in what they can contribute to the benefit of society. He has volunteered for the past three years for LGBTQ rights and plans to use his accounting knowledge to work in politics one day, creating economic policies to help the lower class. Omid, who will join the U.S. Marine Corps, believes individuals can improve the United States in three ways: becoming an honest politician; volunteering; and joining the military. Omid is striving to do all three to play a part in improving his country.

SHAWN PADLEY

Madison Area Technical College
Madison, WI
Liberal Arts & Women and Gender Studies
Christopher Sowa Scholarship Recipient
Pronouns: He/Him/His or They/Them/Theirs

Shawn Padley is a 25-year-old transgender man from south-central Wisconsin. After coming out to his far-right-leaning family in 2011, he had to drop out of college and spent the next several years struggling to get by before moving to Madison and applying to school again in August 2016. Shawn originally planned to explicitly not get involved on-campus, but after noticing a lack of queer representation at his school, reached out to a professor who recommended get involved. Shawn joined the Madison College Student Senate in October 2017, became the first openly-transgender student at Madison College to serve as a Student Senate officer in January 2018, and in April 2018, Shawn was elected Parliamentarian of the Wisconsin Student Government for the 2018-2019 school year. After graduating from Madison College, Shawn plans to transfer to Marquette University in Milwaukee to major in gender and sexualities studies, with possible minors in sociology and theater. With this degree, he wants to work to design and advocate for the use of comprehensive, inclusive, and scientifically-accurate sexual health education curriculum in Wisconsin’s K-12 public schools.

MYSTERIE PEÑA

Santa Monica College
Santa Monica, CA
Communications
Wells Fargo Scholarship Recipient
Pronouns: He/Him/His or They/Them/Theirs 

Mysterie Peña is a disabled, queer, non-binary, transgender man of mixed race.  Born and raised in Los Angeles, to a Filipino, Mexican, and white family.  In high school, he founded his school’s GSA and created a path for LGBT+ students to follow.  Mysterie has become an advocate of LGBT+ people on his college campus. He founded the Gender-Sexuality Alliance at school and was President for two terms.  Mysterie created his school’s first Pride Week, which now happens every year, with events like a Pride Cafe and LGBT+ People and P.O.C. in academia panel. Mysterie hopes to promote LGBT+ visibility in media and create an understanding of our issues. 

LAITH OCEAN RODRIGUEZ

Santa Rosa Junior College  
Santa Rosa, CA
Sociology 
Big Apple Recreational Sports Scholarship Recipient
Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs 

Bismark ‘Laith Ocean’ Torrez Rodriguez and is an UndocuQueer non gender conforming Nicaraguan survivor. They arrived in the United States at seven years old as an unaccompanied minor from Nicaragua. They have since been living in Santa Rosa, CA where they were later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder due to their flashback to the Nicaraguan uprisings, physical and substance abuse, and two sexual assaults. Laith will be one of the first in their family to attend a university. They will be enrolling in UC Berkeley in 2019 after much community support. They are the Lead Organizer for North Bay Immigrant Youth Union, part of California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance. They have been organizing with the immigrant rights movement for six years and the Trans/Queer Liberation movement for four years. Laith aspires to work with the United Nations to help marginalized communities throughout the globe.

EMMETT TASSIN

Berkeley City College  
Berkeley, CA
Landscape Architecture
Wells Fargo Scholarship Recipient
Pronouns: He/Him/His or They/Them/Theirs

Emmett Tassin has been lives in the thriving queer community of the San Francisco Bay Area. Exploring the different ways gardening and landscapes can improve mental and physical health in marginalized communities has been a dream for Emmett’s for years. He has worked at a plant nursery for the past several years and his interest and passion for all things horticulture has only continued to grow. He donated countless plants to local community gardens, participated in planting projects to beautify the community, and volunteered at local schools to show students gardening basics. After attending Berkeley City College, he plans to transfer to the University of California- Berkeley to study landscape architecture. There he will gain the skills to provide beautiful, healing environments to the community that has given him so much. 

SAMMIE ZENOZ

Miami Dade College 
Miami, FL
English 
Donald Cummins Scholarship Recipient
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Sammie Zenoz is an English major with a passion for creative writing. Growing up, she was bullied for being different and never fit in. Though she never graduated high school, she challenged herself to get her G.E.D. She applied for community college but flunked out of her first year. Discouraged, she found work as a waitress and let years pass before she tried again. Sammie came out as a lesbian to her family at the age of 25 after she met her girlfriend. It was as though she was discovering this critical piece of herself she never knew was missing. Determined to change, she worked harder, pursuing a degree in biology. She excelled for a few semesters but eventually found the classes too difficult to pass. After failing her first class since her return, she decided to take the summer off. At a crossroads, Sammie registered for a creative writing class and unwittingly changed her future. Her English professors quickly recognized her potential and begged her to switch her major to English. She is now Co-Editor-In-Chief of Urbana Literary Arts Magazine. She is published in Urbana Volume 11 and is best known for her work as a lesbian nonfiction author. Sammie founded Miami Writers Society to help other writers find their voice, and she aspires to be a celebrated novelist, hoping to one day share her coming out story with the world, creating a platform for others like her to stand proudly. 

Big Apple Recreational Sports

Current Awardee: Jasz Cabrera

Paul C. Phillips

Current Awardee: Hilary Cruz, Anthony Adero Olweny

CarGurus

Current Awardee: Andreas Copes

LA Dodgers

Current Awardee: Travis Martz

Toyota

Current Awardee: Gill Sullivan

Bryan Fitzgerald

Current Awardee: Joshua Elizondo

Broward LEADS

Current Awardee: Shukri Sheick

Wendell Reid

Current Awardee: Alberto Williams

John Hancock

Current Awardee: Dannie Barbour

Terry Longmore

Current Awardee: Jaime Truzman

Miami Beach Gay Pride

Current Awardee: Manny Faria

John Knudsen

Current Awardee: Stephanie King

Equality Florida

Current Awardee: Jack Jordan

Donald Cummins

Current Awardee: Jorge Hernandez

Mae Nicholes Memorial Point Scholarship

Current Awardee: Ash Tebar

Christopher Sowa

Current Awardee: Shawn Padley

Jerry & Diane Cunningham

Current Awardee: Carlos Ibarra

KEVIN

Norwalk Community College
Norwalk, CT
Liberal Arts
Pronouns: He/Him/His

Kevin migrated from Jamaica, where he was born, to the United States in December 2014. He has since been seeking asylum in the United States, the country he now calls home, due to homophobic persecution in Jamaica. Having lived experience of homelessness, he now dedicates a lot of his time to work with LGBT youth who have been in similar situations, particularly in areas of mental health and homelessness. He plays an active role in the social life at his local LGBT center, Triangle Community Center, where he also volunteers at different fundraising events. Kevin enrolled at Norwalk Community College in Connecticut in the fall of 2016 as a full-time student. Though he is also working full time, Kevin plans to complete his second and final year at Norwalk Community College in the spring of 2018. His hard work and dedication have earned him honors status at the school. Kevin plans to complete a bachelor’s degree in economics and then pursue a career in a field related to his degree.

ANDRÉS BAUTISTA

Glendale Community College
Glendale, AZ
Psychology and Gender & Women’s Studies
Pronouns: He/Him/His

Andrés Bautista is a first-generation Mexican-American student. He is studying sociology and gender & women’s studies with plans to transfer to University of Arizona in the fall of 2018, where he will continue his studies and involvement in the LGBTQ+ community. Andrés is the 2017-2018 President of the LGBT+ Club at Glendale Community College and has been participating in several projects to help the LGBTQ+ youth community. Andrés wishes to expand his knowledge and create a strong LGBTQ+ youth organizing presence in central Arizona.

DIANA CAMPOS

Richard J. Daley College
Chicago, IL
Engineering Science
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Diana Campos is a native of the Southside of Chicago. In spite of all the stereotypes and negative imagery connected to the city she loves, Diana still works to create a world of value through her actions in her community. Diana’s academic and personal goals are fundamentally based on her desire to be of service to others. In two decades as a teaching artist and nonprofit administrator, she has worked to make the arts accessible to youth all across the city. Diana has developed a unique dance curriculum through her own company, BreakThrough Movement, in which the performing arts are a vehicle for activism and self-exploration. BreakThrough Movement students have created work that reflects their unique perspective on immigration, LGBTQ bullying, and gun violence. It is Diana’s fervent determination to create safe space for more youth to embrace their innate potential. Diana is currently seeking an Associate in Engineering Science degree and plans to pursue degrees in math and physics at Illinois Institute of Technology. Ultimately, her desire is to create a new education model that combines her artistic and STEM worlds into a curriculum designed to elevate the quality of education, thereby helping break the cycle of poverty that plagues the most violent communities in Chicago.

KEVIN CONTON MANCIA

Santa Monica College
Santa Monica, CA
Mathematics
Pronouns: He/Him/His

Kevin Canton Mancia was born in San Salvador, El Salvador, and was raised in the small town of Quezaltepeque. Six months after his birth, his parents departed his home country for America, leaving Kevin under the care of his paternal grandparents. Little did he know that at 6 years old, he would reunite with his parents in Los Angeles, CA, which would prove to be a critical turning point in his life. Learning a whole new language and culture proved difficult as Kevin was forced to adapt quickly to his new environment. Despite these challenges, Kevin’s persistence and passion for learning allowed him to pick up English quickly and excel academically. In addition to growing up in America as an immigrant and a person of color, Kevin would also come to terms with his sexuality as a teenager. After coming out in the summer of 2015, Kevin began to look for ways to contribute to the LGBTQ community. When he started college, Kevin along with some friends founded Santa Monica College’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance. Since then, Kevin has been a proud member and has helped provide a safe and welcoming environment for LGBTQ students through his involvement as a club officer and as a commissioner in student government. As Kevin pursues his undergraduate degree in mathematics, he hopes to ultimately apply his degree in law, medicine, or academia while continuing to give back to his LGBTQ, Immigrant, and Latinx communities.

TOMÁS CASTILLO BUKAKIS

College of the Canyons
Santa Clarita, CA
Santa Monica College
Santa Monica, CA Film
Pronouns: He/Him/His

A native of Costa Rica, Tomás Bukakis was at age 17 lost, alone, and forgotten in the “foreign” land of the United States; a place where he never intended to end up. He spoke no English, didn’t know his rights and hardly had any. He couldn’t legally work or enroll in school. For months he was homeless, living on the streets and moving between many shelters until he landed in a transitional living program at the Los Angeles LGBT Center. During this time he managed to learn English by carefully listening to others speak, by reading every piece of literature he could lay his hands on, and by watching every episode of “How I Met Your Mother.” In 2015 he became a legal permanent resident of the United States. He put himself through school by working several jobs. Today, Tomás is well on his way to completing a film degree at College Of The Canyons in Santa Clarita, California, where he has become a member of the student government by being voted the Cultural Coordinator for the student body. He continues to improve his English and is also studying Chinese. His second major is Communications. He hopes to take his communication studies into an international relations major and to apply that knowledge to the media and entertainment businesses. Tomás is an active member of Hollywood’s LGBTQ community. He is involved in causes which include HIV awareness, Human trafficking, Native American, and immigration issues.

NIA CLARK

Los Angeles City College
Los Angeles, CA
Communications
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

As a transgender youth of color who spent most of her childhood in foster care, Nia Clark consistently struggled to find acceptance and support from the adults around her. While most would understandably distance themselves from such rejection and intolerance, Nia has spent over a decade changing the system from within as a child welfare professional and LGBTQ youth advocate. Nia currently works at LifeWorks, the youth development and mentorship program at the Los Angeles LGBT Center. As Mentoring Coordinator, she is responsible for overseeing more than 50 active one-on-one mentorship matches between LGBTQ youth and adults each year. She is also a part-time trainer for the Human Rights Campaign’s All Children – All Families Project, an initiative that provides a framework for child welfare agencies to achieve safety, permanency, and well-being by improving their practice with queer youth. Thoroughly impressed by Clark’s hard work and extensive background in child welfare, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA) enlisted her help in launching a two-year national pilot project to provide more inclusive mentoring services and resources for LGBTQ youth by using the best practices of Nia’s own mentoring program. To date, she has trained BBBSA sites in Seattle, Chicago, Philadelphia, and San Diego, as well as the national headquarters in Tampa, Florida. Nia is a communications major at Los Angeles City College. She eventually plans to obtain her MSW and become a social work professor so she can continue teaching adults to affirm and support LGBTQ youth in systems of care.

BRYANT COUVILLON

Georgia State University Perimeter College
Atlanta, GA
Public Policy
Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs

Bryant Couvillon is out and proud as a non-binary, transgender, and pansexual person. Bryant was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. At 9-years-old they moved to Birmingham, Alabama. Coming out at 12, they faced discrimination and bullying throughout middle and high school. This helped motivate them to become very active in the world of LGBTQ+ advocacy. Bryant won the Stephen Light Youth Advocacy Award in 2012 at the age of 15 after facing a potential lawsuit with their high school due to LGBTQ+ discrimination. Struggling to find acceptance for being transgender, Bryant moved to Atlanta at the age of 18 to finally start embracing their true self. They are pursuing a degree in public policy with ambitions to run for public office in the near future. They are passionate about all things civil rights, human rights, animal justice, and environmental justice. Bryant is also in the process or working to revitalize a nonprofit in Atlanta with goals of creating a center or community healing, love, and advocacy for the queer and trans communities. They have a strong love for children, and they are also a nanny. They plan on becoming a foster parent to LGBTQ+ teens, because they believe in radical mothering and that children are the light of the future. Bryant has two main life goals: create meaningful political change, and become a strong and loving parent.

ROBERT DARKWOOD

Fullerton College
Fullerton, CA
Pre-Nursing
Pronouns: He/Him/His

Robert Darkwood is an undergraduate student at Fullerton College with a passion for nursing and an interest in law. The resilience of overcoming an impoverished childhood that included alcohol/drug domestic violence has inspired him to study human health, as well as explore the impact of emergency medicine volunteers in communities overwhelmed by natural disasters. Robert has held internships in medical/surgical care and student health outreach, co-facilitating blood drives with the American Red Cross and received a 2017 Exemplary Service Award from Community Outreach Education and Prevention (COPE) Health Scholars. He represents the 24,000 students of Fullerton College in various, important student government committees as well as the community service-based honor society Alpha Gamma Sigma. He was chosen to receive the 2017 Associated Students Senator of the Year Award and 2017 Gay and Lesbian Association of District Employees (GLADE) scholarship for the North Orange County Community College District. Robert dreams of applying his strong resolve to help solve health problems. He would like to earn nursing and law degrees to improve health care policies with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

JUSTIN DEAL

Cleveland State Community College
Cleveland, TN
Pre-Nursing
Pronouns: He/Him/His

Justin Deal is from Copperhill, Tennessee. He is an upcoming sophomore at Cleveland State Community College. Justin takes part of many aspects of the college; he is an honors student, serving as the 2017-18 Student Senate President, and is a member of many clubs. As someone who has taken great interest in extracurricular activities, Justin utilizes his leadership skills to help recruit new students into different organizations, including the newly introduced Allies program at CSCC. After receiving an associate degree, he plans to transfer to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and major in nursing.

LUCAS DICKERSON

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College
Perkinston, MS
Art
Pronouns: He/Him/His

Lucas Dickerson was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and raised in various southern states. He grew up with his dad and sister and at age 16 decided he would be happiest living as a transgender male. Although living as a gay, transgender man in the southernmost area of Mississippi proves to be a challenge, he strives to enjoy his new life. Lucas is attending Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and hopes one day to teach digital arts at a college level. After finishing school, he plans to be politically active to help bring equality to LGBTQ people, as well as provide awareness and resources to those who live in poverty.

DANIEL GOMEZ

East Los Angeles College
Monterey Park, CA
Neuroscience
Pronouns: He/Him/His

Daniel Gomez is a 21-year-old gay man who was born and raised in East Los Angeles, California. He became cognizant of the importance of empowering and raising awareness for the LGBTQIA+ community when he faced severe criticism from a religious household when he came out at the age of 15. Realizing that the lack of LGBTQIA+ representation in communities of color was apparent in his neighborhood, Daniel joined several organizations on campus to advocate for the rights and respect of all students. Daniel is currently an honors student at East Los Angeles College, and he is pursuing a degree in neuroscience. He is also involved in several academic enrichment programs such University of California Los Angeles Center for Community College Partnership, Loyola Marymount University Undergraduate Research Scholars Academy, and the California State University Northridge Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity Promoting Opportunities for Diversity in Education and Research program. Daniel hopes to transfer to a university by fall of 2018 and, upon completing his undergraduate degree, he plans to go to medical school and become a surgeon.

TREMAINE JONES

Miami Dade College
Miami, FL
Social Work
Pronouns: He/Him/His

Tremaine “Trey” Jones is a native of Miami, Florida. Trey identifies as an Afro-Bahamian American Queer and prefers masculine pronouns. As early as age five he recognized his queerness. However, due to his Catholic and Episcopalian background and Bahamian heritage, he believed that exploring his queerness was not a possibility. However, due to his supportive mother and sister, Trey has been able to expand his thinking and explore queerness. After graduating high school, he organized an effort to end the criminalization of youth of color in Miami with Power U Center for Social Change. Soon after, he was introduced to Pridelines a local LGBTQ organization in Miami. Over the years Trey took on various roles at Pridelines. After Trey’s transition out of Pridelines’ youth programs he continued to be involved with organizations to provide support groups for LGBTQ youth in shelters, coordinated events for gay, bisexual, queer men of color, and co-created a summer long social justice leadership institute for youth. In 2017 Trey became the Community Relations Manager at Pridelines. Trey is a past board member of the Alliance for GLBTQ Youth, been a part of the Miami-Dade Department of Health’s Miami Collaborative, PrEP Workgroup, Black Health Initiative, facilitated workshops at the United States Conference on AIDS, and has been nominated for HIV counselor of the Year by the Florida Department of Health. In 2016 Trey created and was chair of South Florida’s first intergenerational conference focusing on HIV and its impact on the community. In his free time Trey enjoys taking care of his godson, Michael, rollerblading and practicing the Afro-Brazilian martial art of Capoeira.

ALEXANDER KEES BOMGARDNER

North Lake College
Irving, TX
Accounting
Pronouns: He/Him/His

Alexander “Sander” Kees Bomgardner began life in Colorado Springs, Colorado. At theage of 16, he moved down to Texas and began attending North Lake College. While there, he joined the Gay-Straight Alliance on campus and became heavily involved with the LGBTQ community at the college. Due in part to the support he had with the North Lake family, Sander came out as transgender to his family, friends, and the world. Sander also continued to lean on the support of North Lake as he became the President of Student Government for 13 community colleges in Northwest Texas, and Vice President of the college’s Gay-Straight Alliance. He plans on transferring to Texas A&M Commerce to complete a Bachelor’s of Science in Accounting.

AMME LAHAIE

Bellingham Technical College
Bellingham, WA
Process Technology, Mechanical Engineering
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers/He/Him/His

Amme Lahaie was born in California to teenage parents. Her family moved to Elma, WA, when she was a freshman in high school. She came out to her family at the age of 14. It was a tough road being a young lesbian in a small town, so she sought acceptance within the LGBTQ community at organizations as Queer Youth and Stonewall Youth. At age 37, Amme finally made the commitment and sacrifice to pursue her dreams of a college degree and a stable future. She is currently attending Bellingham Technical College where she is a dual major student in Process Technology and Mechanical Engineering. She works as a Peer Navigational Coach and Tutor for the Trio & STAR Programs. Amme also helped establish the Gender and Sexuality Alliance on the BTC campus and will start a position this fall as a Student Life Coordinator.

CHLOE LANNES

Diablo Valley College
Pleasant Hill, CA
English
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Chloe Lannes was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. The eldest in a blended family, Chloe spent much of her childhood helping her parents care for her four younger siblings. As she aged, she found it increasingly difficult to maintain a balance between her life at home and the personal changes she underwent. Eventually, she turned to academics as a means of coping and, with the immeasurable support of her teachers, found herself within the material of her English courses. Today Chloe is a highly accomplished student. She is an English tutor in Diablo Valley College’s writing lab where she meets with a diverse population of students, many of whom are learning English as a second language. Chloe also volunteers in her community and works part-time. Through her experiences as a student and a tutor, Chloe has learned to appreciate the wide variety of perspectives a diverse learning community offers. Chloe is passionate about helping others find their voices, and she hopes to build a career in education with a focus on the LGBTQ community. She believes in empowering marginalized populations of society through a model of education that values each student’s unique experience. In the future, Chloe would like to see an academic environment that acknowledges and cherishes the experiences of LGBTQ students and intersectionality in student identity.

NINA LOCKSHIN

Diablo Valley College
Pleasant Hill, CA
Sociology
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Nina Lockshin is a young professional artist who loves to engage in the fine arts, musical composition, and filmmaking. She has a goal of becoming a college professor and a sound editor for film. She is the first on her maternal side to attend college and considers herself a representative of the potential of her ancestors and family that were held back due to finances, prejudice, and immigration statuses. Nina currently attends Diablo Valley Community College in the Bay Area, California, with hopes of transferring to Mills College for women in Oakland. She is a strong activist in the LGBT+ community, having worked for the HRC and other political groups. She is an out and proud queer woman of color and strives every day to break the societal boundaries around her.

MCKENNA PALMER

Santa Monica College
Yucaipa, CA
Gender Studies
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

At just 20 years old, McKenna Palmer already has extensive experience advocating for the LGBTQ community. McKenna came out in high school and promptly became president of her school’s GSA There she witnessed the sometimes-horrific struggles that today’s queer youth encounter. She made it her life mission from there on to advocate for LGTBQ youth and began an internship at the It Gets Better Project. That affiliation has helped her become an internet personality. She has interviewed drag queens, LGBTQ activists, and even covered the red carpet at Buzzfeed’s first Queer Prom. McKenna plans to use her public speaking skills to be a voice of empowerment for LGBTQ youth and minorities.

STEVAN PEREA

Santa Monica College
Santa Monica, CA
Political Science
Pronouns: He/Him/Has

Stevan Perea was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, but he currently resides in Santa Monica where he is a political science major at Santa Monica College. He is a member of Alpha Gamma Sigma Honor Society and Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, as well as a Presidents’ Ambassador. Additionally, Stevan is a youth education advocate at the Los Angeles LGBTQ Center where he is a mentor and tutor to at-risk youth. Stevan is passionate about providing support and encouragement to those with limited options and he is driven to assist at-risk and homeless youth build a better and brighter future through education and academic achievement. Stevan is deeply fascinated with the workings of the American government and public policy and plans to attend graduate school for a dual JD/MBA.

GRAMOZ PRESTRESHI

The Catholic University of America
Washington, DC
Social Work
Pronouns: He/Him/His

Gramoz Prestreshi was born and raised in Kosovo, part of the former Yugoslavia. At age 21 he came to America, was granted political asylum, and later became a citizen of the United States. In his new country, he is has committed himself to getting a higher education degree and making a difference in the lives of others. Gramoz is an honor student at The Catholic University of America. He has been an important international resource to the LGBTQ communities of Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. Gramoz hopes to be a social worker helping the LGBTQ community when he finishes school.

CHRISTINA QUIÑONEZ

 

Berkeley City College
Berkeley, CA
Social Sciences
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Christina Quiñonez was born to a single mother who had migrated to Los Angeles from Guatemala to flee a civil war in her native country. At age 12, Christina began to embrace her true identity as a female, only to receive a lack of affirmation and support from her family. While navigating her teens as a minor without a stable home or family, she met Cris Beam who provided much needed moral support and continuously encouraged Christina to steer her personal narrative through education. To support herself financially, she took a part-time job with an HIV epidemiology program, which helped her understand how critical HIV prevention is for the transgender community as well as socioeconomically disadvantaged communities of color. Her passion for preventing HIV led to continued professional service within marginalized communities, such as Bienestar, and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. In 2007 Christina was nominated by her peers to be featured in the first Angel’s of Change calendar and fashion show, which raised funds, awareness, and support for transgender youth. She also joined the California Mental Health Service Act (Prop 63) Multicultural Coalition to help bring new perspectives to mental health systems. Christina is currently working at the Center of Excellence for Transgender Health at UCSF while attending Berkeley City College majoring in Psychology. She eventually hopes to obtain a bachelor’s degree and work as trainer and program developer.

 

CALEB REYES APARICIO

Long Beach City College
Long Beach, CA
Psychology
Pronouns: He/Him/His

Caleb is a first-generation college student, born and raised in beautiful Long Beach, California. From the moment he started kindergarten, he fell in love with reading & learning, so much that he would often get teased for always carrying a book. Unfortunately, toward the end of their 5th-grade year, he began their battle with depression for a few reasons, one of them not knowing how to come to terms with his sexuality. This, along with his parent’s divorce, took a toll on his academic career for almost a decade. Although he came to terms with his sexuality right before entering high school, he soon started to struggle with his gender identity, not knowing exactly what he identified as, until one day he stumbled upon the term “Genderqueer” and everything clicked. Finally being able to identify himself, Caleb returned to Long Beach City College in 2016 after a four-year gap with a renewed passion for his education and fell in love with the LGBTQ+ club on campus, Queer Space. Having been elected to a second term as President of Queer Space for fall 2017, Caleb plans to reach out to LGBTQ+ Youth in Long Beach while working on his associate degree in psychology, which is only a steppingstone to his doctorate of psychology. As a psychologist, Caleb will work with LGBTQ+ youth & their families to help them during times of confusion, doubt, and isolation.

DAFFODYLE MILKA LEXINE SAGET

Miami Dade College
Miami, FL
Sociology
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

 

Daffodyle Saget was born in Haiti, but when she was 5-years-old her family emigrated to America so that they could give her all the opportunities that their country could not provide. As she grew up, she soon learned that access to those opportunities was not easy and that her race, class, sex, and sexuality would become barriers and burdens. Daffodyle felt isolated in her predominantly white schools, humiliated by her financial circumstances, lacking in her femininity, and upon realizing her bisexuality, ashamed. The treatment she received from her peers, family, church, and society took a toll on her. She internalized all of that negativity, and it started to affect her grades and social interactions. With the help of an observant counselor, she was able to overcome her depression, and become brave enough to get involved in her school GSA and become more active in the LGBT community. Daffodyle took a year off after graduating high school. That year she officially came out and gave back, traveling to Haiti to work at an orphanage who’s children she was able to relate to and pass the baton of healing. She later enrolled at Miami Dade College majoring in sociology. Daffodyle wants to examine the barriers she and others face and educate others on these issues using multiple platforms and focusing on social issues by making documentaries, creating art installations, and putting these issues into context in films and novels.

PRESTON SHATWELL

Rogers State University
Claremore, OK
Marketing
Pronouns: He/Him/His

Preston Shatwell is a native Oklahoman, born and raised in Tulsa. Preston is a first-generation college student attending Rogers State University where he is seeking a business marketing degree. He plans to use the professional skills gained to advance causes of great importance to him. Growing up in a conservative state, still considered hostile to the LGBTQ+ community, Preston experienced marginalization and discrimination throughout his upbringing. He uses every experience, negative or otherwise, to inspire his work for better opportunities for future LGBTQ+ generations. Preston leads the longest-running intercollegiate legislature in the country working to promote political efficacy and leadership in college students around Oklahoma. He serves as Chair of the National College Democrats of America’s LGBTQ+ Caucus and works to elect progressive candidates to the Oklahoma Legislature. Preston is committed to being part of the progress for the LGBTQ+ community and wants to share the same love, support, and empowerment Point Foundations gives him, back to the LGBTQ+ community.

BRYCE TAYLOR

Western Iowa Tech Community College
Morristown, IL
Dental Hygiene
Pronouns: He/Him/His

Bryce Taylor was born in Sioux City, Iowa, and grew up in the small town of Jefferson, South Dakota, with his two brothers (one a twin), and three older sisters. He attended the same school, Elk Point–Jefferson, for elementary, middle and high school. Throughout high school, he participated in drama, choir, show choir, as well as all-state choir, all while working hard to maintain good grades and making time for family and friends. After graduating high school in 2015, Bryce enrolled in Western Iowa Tech Community College. In spring of 2017, Bryce came out as gay to his family and friends. He received positive feedback from his loved ones, who continue to support and love him. Bryce plans to enroll in the dental hygiene program at the University of South Dakota in 2018. He also plans to become a more active member of the LGBTQ community.

SERGIO TUNDO

Harry S. Truman College
Chicago, IL
Pre-Nursing
Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs

Sergio Tundo was born in Wayne, New Jersey. They went to college for a year before deciding to take some time off. Sergio devoted two years working as an AmeriCorps Member. First, doing disaster relief and then HIV prevention outreach in Chicago. They also previously worked with the Global Network of Sex Work Projects as a Regional Coordinator, engaging with current and former sex workers on stigma they face when receiving care for HIV and STI testing and treatment. Sergio is currently a Program Coordinator for an HIV Program in Chicago and is in school working toward their degree in nursing. Sergio’s aim is to complete their degree program and go on to improve LGBTQ+ community health care.

CAMERON BRENNER

Los Angeles Pierce College
Woodland Hills, CA
Theater Arts

Cameron Brenner Cameron Brenner is 22 years old, gay, and gender fluid. A theater arts major in costume design, Cameron is the current president of Pierce College GSA. Driven to be an advocate with and represent the rights of others, Cameron is a Safe-Zone Trainer and does workshops at his college to help other become aware of the needs of the LGBTQ community. He successfully advocated for gender neutral bathrooms to be implemented on his campus as well as represented the needs of students as a student senator. He aims to continue his education in the future by getting an MFA in Costume Design and to go on to teach others. Cameron works as a student leader to lend a voice to those that are unable or too afraid to speak. Surviving through domestic violence and bullying Cameron strives so that others will not have had to go through the journey he has, being unsafe and unable to come out.

KERRI CECIL

Los Angeles City College
Los Angeles, CA
Cinema and Television Production

Kerri CecilAs an out transgender woman, Kerri Cecil has had her share of obstacles to overcome. Raised by a conservative Christian, single-parent mother, she was told at a very young age that what she was feeling, what was inside of her was evil. Running away, Kerri eventually made it to Hollywood, CA from rural Minnesota. From that point on, while she lived as her authentic self, Kerri’s life became even more turbulent. Homeless, she began doing sex work to survive which eventually led to years of drug addiction. After more than twenty years Kerri was finally able to pull herself out of that darkness. She began going to college to follow her dreams of being a filmmaker. Today Kerri is happy, confident and unstoppable.

Nelson Jarrin

LaGuardia Community College
Queens, NY
Human Services

Nelson JarrinNelson Jarrin was born and raised in Guayaquil, Ecuador. At age 23, he came to America, where he discovered he could live a free life as a young, gay man. It turned out to be quite a challenge — he lived and worked on the margins of society. The legalization of gay marriage gave him the opportunity to legalize his status. Nelson married his partner Dave on July 26th, 2013. Today, he is taking full advantage of what America has to offer. Nelson is an honor student at LaGuardia Community College while working part-time in New York City. He is active in the LGBTQ community at LaGuardia and hopes to be a social worker with the LGBTQ community when he finishes school.

JULIUS CAEZAR LAZO JR.

Mt. San Antonio College
Walnut, CA
General Education

Julius Caezar Lazo Jr.Julius Caezar Lazo Jr. was born and raised in the Philippines. He moved to California three months after the devastating loss of his mother to cancer. The cultural differences and the difficulties he experienced in the United States made him resilient. Fulfilling his mother’s dying wish that he finish school, Julius is currently taking at Mt. San Antonio College taking the prerequisites for a nursing program. A member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and UCLA MEDPEP program alumnus, Julius has volunteered with programs that promote equality for disabled people in San Gabriel Valley as well as assist undocumented residents of Los Angeles. He is eagerly planning to be active in supporting the LGBT community on his campus. Coming out last year ended Julius’ identity crisis, and he wants to embrace his LGBT community by sharing his learning and being inspired by people.

LAVRENTI LOPES

Los Angeles City College
Los Angeles, CA
Film Production

Lavrenti LopesBorn and raised in Mumbai, India, Lavrenti Lopes has always felt that his identity was constrained by the societal expectations of a country where homosexuality is still a crime. In an effort to live freely while in pursuit of his goal of being a storyteller, he moved to America. Here, however, he felt the battles he faced in India were only magnified. Not only was being gay limiting in securing work in the entertainment industry, the fact that he was an immigrant and a member of a minority group added further challenges. Despite that, Lavrenti has managed to secure steady work in the mediums of film, TV and commercials. He has played leading roles in various independent films including one that premiered at the Bentonville Film Festival and another at the Los Angeles Film Festival. Lavrenti’s goal is to level the playing field for others by writing, directing and producing projects that employ the currently disadvantaged. With that intention, he is currently studying film at a community college and intends to transfer to a four-year institution. Besides his goal of becoming a writer/director/producer, Lavrenti also volunteers six hours a week as a tutor helping people with disabilities realize their potential and goals.

ANGEL L. MEDINA

Antelope Valley College
Lancaster, CA
Deaf Studies & American Sign Language Interpreting Program

Angel L. MedinaAngel L. Medina was born in Circleville, Ohio, but grew up in a low-income household that moved often. She was raised by two Deaf parents who worked hard as a team to raise her and two brothers and showed them that there are no excuses in life, being dedicated to hard work regardless of disabilities. Angel’s father grew up deaf in Mexico, only having a limited education up to 4th grade. Her mother grew up in an oralist school setting of audism at the Ohio State School for the Deaf. They both will forever be her motivation to achieve more than they ever had in life. Angel will be the first in her family to graduate from college and plans to pursue an advanced degree.

Angel has been out since she was nine years old and has volunteered at numerous LGBTQ organizations, including The Center OC in Orange County, California, Long Beach Gay & Lesbian Center of Long Beach, California, The AIDS Quilt Project, Long Beach Lesbian & Gay Pride Inc. and the Dyke March Movement West Hollywood. She married her fiancé Asha of four years in 2016. Angel will use her education to help address mental illness as it impacts the Latino, Deaf, and LGBTQ communities.

AARON RAMIREZ

LaGuardia Community College
Queens, NY
Psychology

Aaron RamirezAaron Ramirez was born and raised in the culturally diverse neighborhood of Queens, New York. From an early age, Aaron began to understand the importance of empowering LGBTQA youth. This understanding first began to take hold in Aaron when he was in high school as he came out and faced criticism from a religious household. Realizing that he was not the only one faced with such issues, Aaron, along with a few fellow students, worked with his high school to create their first Gay-Straight Alliance club and support group for LGBTQA+ students. This allowed him to explore and understand his own sexuality in a safe space with other individuals who were going through similar issues. After seeing how necessary it was to have an LGBTQA+ group in schools, Aaron also helped bring about the return of the Straight and Gay Alliance Club at LaGuardia Community College which had been defunct for two years prior. Seeing firsthand the needs of LGBTQA youth and the community-at-large, Aaron intends to become a mental health counselor to serve the LGBTQA community and create programs to empower LGBTQA individuals to lead more fulfilling lives.

STEVEN ROA

LaGuardia Community College
Queens, NY
Business Administration

Steven RoaSteven Roa is a 21-year-old Dominican gay male who wears androgynous clothing. He is a calm and collected, yet bubbly and energetic person, whose personality is a mix of elegance and brawn (i.e., feminine and masculine). He enjoys singing, dancing, manipulating photos, drawing, aircraft, and scenery. Steven’s goal professionally is to become a corporate or private pilot. He also has a passion for helping others feel great about who they are and finding their true selves, finding great joy in seeing others rise to greatness.

EBONY L. ROBERTSON

El Camino College
Torrance, CA
Nursing

Ebony L. RobertsonEbony L. Robertson was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. Her parents divorced when she was three years old and subsequently she grew up in a single-parent household that moved around from place to place. Ebony was pregnant in high school with her first child and struggled to graduate on time. She thought she was headed in the right direction when she was hired by Countrywide Bank, but after five years was laid off. Devastated by this life changing event, Ebony decided it was time to go back to school. In 2014 she joined El Camino College Care Club and was then elected its President the next year. Ebony would like to open up a doctor’s office and promote safe sex and AIDS awareness.

HOPE RUGLEY

West Los Angeles College
Culver City, CA
Psychology

Hope RugleyHope was born in Los Angeles to a loving family. Her grandmother Dorothy took full custody of her moments after she was born. She taught Hope the importance of having faith and a relationship with God, and Hope valued these moral lessons. Starting school before the age of two, Hope was closely monitored by the school district. In high school, Hope was elected secretary of the Black Student Union and had much success playing sports. While in college, she felt comfortable enough to express her sexuality to her family. After being threatened, verbally abused, abandoned and attacked, Hope fell into a deep state of depression. Today, however, despite many obstacles, she is now in full pursuit to becoming a psychologist with dreams of one day working with children and writing books.

VANESSA RENÉE WATSON

Fashion Institute of Technology
New York, NY
Production Management in Fashion and Related Industries

Vanessa Renée WatsonVanessa Renée Watson is an entrepreneur, a creative individual, and most importantly a student of life. Vanessa and her younger sister were raised in rural New Jersey by their mother in a single-parent home with tremendous support from their maternal, extended family. Though resources were often scarce, access to and the pursuit of academia was a constant. Acknowledging her Queer identity revitalized her desire and ability to thrive after an arduous battle with depression and as a survivor of suicide.

Innovation and diversity are themes that inspire her as she works tirelessly to create systems that facilitate access and equality. Since childhood when she was a Girl Scout, Vanessa has been an active volunteer; most recently with GLAAD, HRC, and the incomparable duo of Aisha and Danielle Moodie-Mills. An undying passion for fashion led her to enroll at FIT. As a production management student, Vanessa is working to revolutionize the apparel industry. Last year she founded UnBoxxed, a platform that integrates fashion and technology; “providing access to apparel that reflects who you see yourself to be – without rules, boxes, or constraints.”