Point Community College Scholarship Program

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.

2016-2017 Community College Scholars
2018-2019 Community College Scholars
2019-2020 Community College Scholars
2020-2021 Community College Scholars
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.



MORGAN WINTERS

Southeast Community College
Social Work
She/Her/Hers
Coach Dream It Real Scholarship

Morgan Winters is a trans woman who was born and raised in Byram, Mississippi. She resides in Lincoln, Nebraska and is a full-time student pursuing a degree in social work. Growing up in the deep south as an openly gay youth brought with it bullying that cost her a safe education. With the help of a supportive friend, she left Mississippi at the age of 18 to escape domestic violence after being disowned for her identity. She continued to face hardship due to her economic vulnerability that resulted from her debilitating post-traumatic stress disorder and agoraphobia. After trying to survive in Massachusetts and New York, she eventually made her way to Nebraska in the spring of 2015. After coping with her limitations, she was able to thrive and secure independence and safety in the local LGBTQ+ community, which gave her the opportunity to discover her gender identity and come out as a transgender woman. In the winter of 2019, she was able to complete her GED and start college with the goal to become a clinical social worker. She continues to balance her student life and her limitations, but with a strong focus on maintaining independence and safety by reducing economic vulnerability with both academic and career goals. Her experience with hardship has clarified the specific needs and issues faced by those in the community. As a result, she found a passion for supporting those in need in her community who are facing hardship. This small, but caring support network of close friends led her to pursue this passion academically and professionally. To accomplish this, she works hard develop her skills and knowledge further, not just as an aspiring trauma-informed counselor, but also as an advocate who has experience coping with and navigating the institutional barriers that continue to marginalize those in the LGBTQ+ community.

DAVID WATKINS JR.

Monroe County Community College
Music
He/Him/His
Michael J. Jeffrey and Jeffrey J. Mitchell Scholarship

David is from Monroe County, Michigan. He lives with his grandparents along with his two sisters. He has always been a shy kid, but has developed himself into becoming a creative and bright young man. He has always tried to be his own person and always tries to find unique ways to express himself. Whether it is customizing a tux for a school dance or coming up with a witty iconic catch phrase, David is always full of surprises, leaving his friends and family only wanting more. David has always been a fan of music. In high school he played in band and even paved his way to be part of Wind Ensemble, which is considered to be a very advanced music class. David has always tried to serve his community. He is in Student Council, along with the National Honor Society and the Trio Program. He wants to help people show all of their colors, just as he does. David cares deeply about understanding what he is learning and is putting what he knows into his material.

ERIC WALKER

Wilbur Wright College
Human Resources
He/Him/His
Alvin O. McCray & Jason M. Rudman Scholarship

Eric grew up as a middle child with two sisters in a small town called Harvey, Illinois. He knew he was gay at 6 years old and was sexually abused by a family member at 10 years old. He took the anger, pain, and shame from the abuse to create change in his own life. In school he was bullied for being fat, black, dark skinned, ugly and feminine, but today, he embraces all of those attributes. Throughout high school he did various charity work with American Red Cross, People of Color (POC) groups, LGBTQIA groups, and animal shelters while working full time. He wants to use his education and for his own development, and also help young queer kids that do not have the support of their biological families. Upon receiving his bachelor’s degree, he would like to become more involved in POC LGBTQ work and help create fun and safe places for his community.

BRYAN VILLA

Fullerton College
Marine Biology
He/Him/His
Coach Dream It Real Scholarship

Bryan was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. He was only four years old when his parents brought  him across the border to the U.S. with the hope of achieving the “American Dream.” Growing up in an immigrant household where his father was an abusive man filled with the notorious Mexican machismo, and his mother who was too afraid to stand up to her husband, led to various internal struggles for Bryan. During seventh grade, he was outed by his classmate. Bryan knew he couldn’t keep being afraid of simply living and he had to own who he was. He entered high school with new confidence and attitude. He still struggled with his queer identity, his father’s abuse, and experienced periods of depression – but he persevered. Bryan became the main photographer and editor of his school’s yearbook, was nominated for homecoming king, participated in cross country, joined the Spanish club, and was a student council member. During the outbreak of COVID-19 with strict lockdowns, the abuse from his father unfortunately became worse, forcing he and his mother to flee with his siblings. Bryan plans to leave his past behind by creating a new life for himself in California, being the first in his family to obtain a college education, transfer to the university of his choice, support his mother and sisters, and focus on becoming a marine biologist accompanied with the thing he loves most: the ocean.

COLE TILLMAN

West Georgia Technical College
Electrical Engineering
He/Him/His

Cole Tillman is an African American who grew up in Georgia as a middle child in a family of eight kids and his father was a pastor. At age 10, he had to put a significant portion of his life on hold to help raise his four younger siblings. He eventually graduated from Cobb Horizon High School after facing many adversities. Throughout high school he participated in many activities including a men’s exercise group, Robotics club, and the Gay-Straight Alliance club. He plans to attend community college where he will study electrical engineering and will soon transfer to a four year university to continue his studies.

KATELYN TEHAN

Des Moines Area Community College
Environmental Studies
They/Them/Theirs
Wells Fargo Scholarship

Katelyn Tehan was born in Lincoln, Nebraska and raised in Ames, Iowa since. In 2012, her mother and father separated, leaving Katelyn to take care of her two younger brothers. Being in a paternal role made her relationship with her family become strained, and coming out even more difficult. Katelyn knew she was bisexual, but she felt discouraged by family members to come out; in middle school there was little talk of sexuality but moving on to high school there was significantly more support from peers. With more reinforcement Katelyn went on to join non-profit organizations founded on the support of LGBTQ rights, political equality, and basic environmental standards. These inspired her to advance her academics in environmental science; as she graduated from Ames High School. Upon graduating, she went on to work on homesteads all over the country and continued her college career focusing on environmental studies.  In 2022, Katelyn will advance to Iowa State University to focus on conservation and environmental sociology. Her dream is to become a park ranger and promote awareness of how our communities interact with nature and how it can be improved.

ADDISON SMITH

North Central Texas College
Sociology
She/Her/Hers
Wells Fargo Scholarship

Addison grew up in North Texas as the oldest of four children. She realized she was gay in sixth grade and was met with bullying, which resulted in her leaving public school. While she was in high school, she joined a secular LGBT youth group run by a local LGBT organization, Outreach Denton. In this group, she built a network of LGBT friends that she could relate to and was introduced to the concept of social work. Growing up in Texas, Addison saw the mistreatment of her LGBT friends and peers and attempts to pass discriminatory legislation in the state. She was inspired to become a social worker to provide people in her community with the resources and experiences that the LGBT youth group gave her. She does her part to help her community by volunteering at her local homeless shelter and participating in her school’s LGBT student group. She hopes to work with children and show them that they are not alone and that things can get better.

BRETT SHAIA

Wilbur Wright Community College
Fine Arts
They/Them/Theirs
Parametric Scholarship

Brett Shaia grew up in a small midwestern town in Indiana. They came out as gay in middle school and were bullied the rest of their school life in Indiana. In their early life, Brett struggled with housing displacement and found stability through the LGBT community. They are a fine arts student at Wilbur Wright Community College and plan on transferring to The Art Institute for their bachelor’s degree. Eventually, Brett plans to obtain a master’s degree and pursue a career in architecture.

CHRISTINA SCOTT

Hillsborough Community College
Marine Biology
She/They

Christina Scott is an Afro-Latina first generation college student attending Hillsborough Community College (HCC) as of Fall 2021. They were raised by in a very religious catholic family in Puerto Rico. Upon moving out of the colony to Florida and getting away from her family, she was able to accept her bisexuality. Through their art they were able express the struggles of coming upon this realization, making art a very important practice in their life. Their major at this time is Marine Biology. Christina is part of the Honors Program at HCC and she hopes to transfer to a four-year university and remain in the honors program. She aims to graduate with her masters in Marine Biology and become an aquarist, as well as a part of the conservation about coral reefs.

EMILY SCHRAER

The Honors College at Miami Dade College
Biology and Theater
She/Her/Ella
Victoria’s Secret Scholarship

Emily Schraer was born and raised in Miami, Florida to Argentinian parents. She grew up continuously inspired by them as they both worked multiple jobs to support her and her two siblings. Emily began questioning her sexuality in middle school and realized she was bisexual, but she was ashamed and insecure. After years of self-love and growth, she finally became proud of who she was. Emily started writing for The Reporter newspaper at her college during October of 2020. She also began serving as a member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) club and the Yes! Club for Environmental Sustainability in October. Emily began serving as one of two District Ambassadors for the newly formed Changemaking Council, helping college students find their passion for social issues. She soon began volunteering as an Administrative Assistant for a non-profit organization determined to assist domestic abuse and human trafficking survivors. Emily volunteers at the Jewish Volunteer Center and gives private flute lessons to middle and high schoolers. She hopes to transfer to a selective institution double majoring in biology and theater. After college, Emily plans on joining Peace Corps before going to medical school to get board-certified as a Forensic Pathologist. When she is not studying for her classes or volunteering, Emily is usually hanging out with friends, reading, painting glass jars, or going scuba diving with her dad.

BEE SANCHEZ SALAZAR

Los Angeles City College
Art Therapy
They/Them/Theirs
Paul C. Phillips Scholarship

Bee grew up in Inglewood, California with their two parents and two siblings.  Bee was bullied as an early kid for being a “tomboy” up until they were in high school. Bee realized they were queer in 9th grade, but they were afraid to tell their friends. When they entered college, they joined the GSA and became treasurer. They were responsible for creating social media content that involved educating people on intersectionality and oppression. Bee joined the Adelante program, but soon became disappointed when they learned there was no support available for Latinx LGBTQ individuals. They met with the conservative catholic staff, and was eventually granted the opportunity to host workshops. On campus, they were chosen by teachers and clubs to facilitate workshops about transgender students on campus. Bee hopes to bring art and healing together by creating art therapy sessions at schools, mental hospitals, and nonprofit organizations.

BENTURA SALAZAR JR.

Front Range Community College
STEM
He/Him/His
Wells Fargo Scholarship

Bentura Salazar grew up in several places along the Colorado foothills north of Denver. After becoming a ward of the state in the Spring of 2007, Bentura moved every year between foster families, his loving aunt’s home, and both of his parent’s homes. This drifting made him feel isolated without a sense of community, which was later compounded when he discovered he was gay in the 6th grade. By high school, Bentura had found others in the LGBTQ+ community and his own community within a local peer education group called OASOS (Opening And confirming Sexual Orientation / gender identity Support). For two years, he worked within this group and another called Collie’s Closet to help educate his peers in local high schools and middle schools. He gave them the language and emotional support tools needed if they were questioning themselves. He also provided suicide prevention and awareness support from Collie’s Closet, as rates of suicide are higher in the LGBTQ+ community. Bentura is attending Front Range Community College where he hopes to get an Associate of Science degree and transfer to a four-year university. He aims to obtain a teaching degree and become a high school science teacher, along with being an advising teacher for the school’s GSA (or equivalent) group and be their color guard instructor. He wants to help create a community for future generations, especially those who feel disconnected.

FERN ROMERO-MORA

Cerritos College
Chemistry
She/Her, They/Them

Fern was born in Mexico City. Coming from a background where the choices were limited Fern’s mother had the courage to enter the United States with Fern. At an early age, Fern fell in love with learning and she looked forward to “bothering” her teachers with her questions. In high school Fern realized that she was pansexual. The lack of conversations about sexuality and the lack of support in her home caused Fern to struggle with self-acceptance. During this time, Fern struggled with anxiety and depression. She reached out for help and was referred to a behavioral therapist. The supportive individuals in Fern’s life have empowered her to overcome her obstacles. Fern’s struggle with mental issues is not a weakness, but it is a catalyst for her resilience. Fern currently attends Cerritos Community College where she declared chemistry as her major. In college, Fern began working as a tutor; her tutoring experience has inspired her to pursue teaching as a profession. Fern also enjoys working with professors as a lab aide. In the summer of 2021, Fern will be working as an intern in a science museum. She feels grateful to work with others who encourage critical thinking and provide informal education to the public. Fern plans on eventually achieving her PhD in chemistry. She hopes to break down more barriers as a first-generation, queer, Latina, mental-health advocate, and science professor.

NESS RODRIGUEZ

East Los Angeles College
Sociology
She/Her/Hers
Coach Dream It Real Scholarship

Vanessa is a queer second-generation Mexican-American. Having struggled with chronic illness for most of their life, she has a unique perspective of the disparities of healthcare and education when those in power have little understanding and empathy for others that are different from themselves. She recognizes that she has had the privilege of access to healthcare and education that have allowed her to further herself, and in furthering their education, she takes her communities with her. Without these communities, there is no Ness, and she intends to bring back every resource she can to offer others the opportunities they deserve. She spent much of her life advocating for herself and applied that throughout high school as an active member of their school’s GSA and Mental Health Awareness Club, now a member of East Los Angeles College (ELAC) Students for Political Awareness and Advocacy while majoring in sociology and interning with a local labor union. Along with passion for equity and social justice, they have always had a love for art and music. They’re hoping to transfer to a four-year university in the fall of 2022.

SELENA RODRIGUEZ

Sinclair Community College
Undecided
She/Her/Hers

Selena Rodriguez grew up in a fairly liberal household in Wisconsin for 11 years, until they moved to Kentucky. Throughout her childhood her parents were abusive towards each other, and her mother eventually became abusive towards Selena during her teen years. In 2017 she came out to her mother as bisexual, only to receive a less than welcoming response. On the night of her high school graduation, her mother kicked her out and she moved in with one of her older brothers. During school, Selena was in choir and eventually became a member of the advanced Acapella choir. Selena also volunteered at New Beginnings Therapeutic Riding where she helped other kids and young adults with disabilities. Selena hopes to transfer to an art school in 2023 and finish her bachelor’s degree. After college she wants to work at Sony as a character designer or storyboard artist, or at Marvel as a writer/character designer. Selena hopes to inspire other autistic LGBTQ+ young adults and show them that no matter what challenges they encounter, they can be successful.

NICK RODRIGUEZ

Northern Virginia Community College
Graphic Design
He/Him/His

Nicholas was born in Brooklyn, New York, but spent most of his adolescence in Northern Virginia until he graduated high school in 2009. Nicholas knew he was queer in middle school, but he didn’t have words to describe his identity. As he continued school, he became involved in his high school’s GSA and Drama Club, where it was safe to explore sexuality and gender identity. After graduation, Nicholas moved around to several states to find himself and his identity, only to keep falling short. One day in 2012, he realized he was trans. Determined and scared, Nicholas told his parents and they rejected him. Their rejection was what prompted him to move to Washington, D.C., where he lives today. Nicholas was able to thrive and grow in D.C., and with the continuous support of his community, he was able to welcome his new gender identity into his life with open arms. He is a proud two-spirit, non-binary trans man. Nicholas contributes to his community as a drag performer, an illustrator, and an advocate for trans rights. He will be attending Northern Virginia Community College and will major in graphic design with a focus in illustration. Nicholas is a 30-year-old non-binary trans man and uses He/Him pronouns.

JESEL REYES

Dallas College
Computer Science
She/Her/Hers
Victoria’s Secret Scholarship

Born to Salvadoran immigrants, Jesel was taught that with hard work and dedication, everything is possible. Growing up in a low-income household, Jesel would always accompany her father to his workshop. She would assist her father in fixing cars, sometimes even fixing them herself. One day, one of her father’s clients brought in their brand-new car with a touch screen monitor with multiple features. It was at that moment that Jesel fell in love with technology. However, her parents could not afford a computer. It wasn’t until high school that Jesel had a computer after completing a summer program with Girls Who Code. Jesel is passionate about social activism and the intersection of technology and medicine. During the 2020-2021 school year, Jesel served as the President of the LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens). She and other students hosted online events to inform their community about current events. As one of the only ones in her computer science class, Jesel hopes to mentor other girls interested in pursuing a career in technology. As of fall 2020, Jesel has been a Software Engineer Intern at JPMorgan Chase & Co. through Year Up, a program aimed at closing the opportunity gap. After completing her internship, she plans to pursue her associate degree in computer science or biomedical engineering to transfer to a four-year university. She hopes to attain a position in either the technology or healthcare industry to assist underserved communities.

SAM OSUJI

Prince George’s Community College
Biology
She/Her/Hers
Wells Fargo Scholarship

Samantha was born in the humid and bustling city of Lagos, Nigeria. The fun and amusing but tough city made her resilient. She is the only child and grew up in the suburbs of Lagos. She moved schools several times before settling at an educationally-tasking secondary boarding school. She moved to the United States at 13 and completed her high school education. She is a devoted member of the American Red Cross and the YWCA. She enjoys playing soccer, knitting, listening to science fiction podcasts, and writing embarrassing novels. She will attend Howard University after completing her associate degree and hopes to become an Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority member. She aims to become a cardiologist and help thousands of black women whose cardiovascular health is being ignored.

NICK O’REILLY

Wilbur Wright College
Mechanical Engineering
He/Him/His

Nick grew up outside of Chicago, Illinois and received a Bachelor’s in Film Production & Graphic Design from Loyola University Chicago. After working in brand design Nick entered the hospitality industry where he worked for five years. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Nick lost his job and he began to reconsider the direction in which he wanted to live his life. He decided to enter an Associate’s Program at the City Colleges of Chicago to work towards an AE in Mechanical Engineering; a path he never could have imagined for himself, and one he feels ecstatic to be pursuing. He hopes to work in harnessing solar energy to create a more accessible and affordable renewable resource. Nick quickly realized that there is a bit of a vacuum in community for queer-identified folks in STEM; he promptly set a goal to find other like-minded queer-identified folks across STEM disciplines and create such a network. When he found the Point Foundation Scholarship, it seemed to him to be the perfect place to foster individual and professional growth and to meet other LGBTQ+ folks across different fields. Nick’s wildest dream is to help change the world and continue to make friends with incredible people who want to do the same. He feels entirely fortunate to be a Point Scholar and works hard to live up to his responsibilities. In his free time, Nick loves to ride his bike, see movies in the theater, be outside with friends and learn new things.

TERESA NGUYEN

Portland Community College
Mechanical Engineering
They/Them/Theirs
Douglas Nock Scholarship

Teresa Nguyen was born and raised in Oregon and is currently living in Portland. They are second generation Vietnamese-American and grew up in diaspora with their immigrant family who came to the United States after The Fall of Saigon. Growing up bi-cultural and mixed race had impacted how they viewed the world around them, and being raised to adopt cis-heterosexual normatives affected their decision to avoid coming out as queer until they were eighteen. This catalyst inspired Teresa to become radicalized around LGBTQPIA+ rights, working class rights, anti-blackness trainings in Asian American communities, and queer youth advocacy. Their lived experience with ethnic and gender diaspora prompted them to examine their relationship to food, femme as non-binary, and storytelling through multimedia platforms. Using art to connect to self and their QTBIPOC community informed how they created relationships with their close chosen family, stemming from the cultural impact of their given family. Their creative evolution led to sculpture, metalwork, and welding. This phase of their life connected them to a working artist who is both an engineer and welder, which then inspired Teresa to reach even further and become an engineer themself. They are pursuing a bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering at Portland State University, and will pursue a master’s in Mechanical Engineering specializing in robotics. They are passionate about science communication, creating access into STEM through unconventional learning environments, and hope to become an astronaut one day and have a role in supporting the Artemis missions.

ANGEL NEGRON JR.

Harold Washington City Colleges of Chicago
Interior Architecture
He/Him/His

Angel is a gay, multiracial-latinx, male, first generation college student. Growing up on the west side of Chicago in a Christian home, Angel believed that college was never within reach due to the struggles of daily life. After coming out, Angel found a new community and developed amazing friendships. With their love and support, he took the plunge into furthering his education. Outside of school, he enjoys playing videogames, swimming, spending time with family and friends, and never misses an opportunity to volunteer at various LGBTQ+ organizations and events. He encourages others to live their truth and offers support to those in need. Angel is pursuing his BFA in Interior Architecture. After completing his BFA, he is planning to pursue his master’s in fine arts (MFA) in themed entertainment design. Angel hopes to obtain a position in the theme park design industry.

ALEX MARIE MORRIS

Southwest Wisconsin Technical College and Nicolet College
Liberal Arts
She/They/Them
Wells Fargo Scholarship

Alex grew up in small conservative village of Mount Hope, Wisconsin, with two half siblings, two stepsiblings, four dogs, and a bunch of bunnies. They weren’t close with their biological father as a child but are beginning to form a bond. Their childhood was spent being a creative and very imaginative individual. Once they reached high school, she began questioning their sexuality and gender identity, but she kept this secret due to the conservative high school atmosphere. The oppressive remarks from high school members never stopped Alex from pursuing their aspirations of being involved in social justice. Now, in their third year at Southwest Wisconsin Technical College and first year at Nicolet College, Alex is enrolled in the University Transfer of Liberal Arts program. This program will allow them to earn enough credits to transfer to a UW college. She serves as Vice President of the LGBTQIA+ Charger Alliance group at Southwest Wisconsin Technical College and Student Co-Chair of the WISCORE 2022 planning group. Outside of school, Alex runs an online shop called glitterymushroom, where she sells art and handmade jewelry. Through their online shop, she provides resources for areas in need of justice including but not limited to Black Lives Matter, Mental Health Awareness, LGBTQIA+ community, TWOCC, and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. After community college, Alex plans to earn a degree in Human Services Leadership and DEI certificate, travel the world, and begin their career in social justice.

DANI MOORE-PORTER

Edmonds Community College
Web Application Cloud Development
She/Her/Hers
Wendell Reid Scholarship

Dani is a mixed-race lesbian who was raised in the suburbs of Kirkland, Washington. Being raised in a heteronormative culture was challenging for Dani. She battled alcoholism to try and hide from who she truly was. She struggled with being comfortable in her skin and with general acceptance for many years. In Spring 2011 was Dani’s first involvement in an LGBTQ group at her first college Lake Washington Institute of Technology. It was an exciting experience for her to converse and vote on LGBTQ matters. Specifically, creating a safe restroom space for all genders was the focus. Shortly after, the college built the first gender-neutral bathroom. It was the first Dani had seen in her area. From there Dani participated in Marches annually during Seattle Pride, where she was able to connect with her peers and be herself. Recently, Dani began facilitating a recovery meeting where she translates gender binary literature into genderfluid terms which helps LGBTQ peers who are trying to get sober hear the message of recovery. In addition, she provides LGBTQ meeting information and sober events. Dani’s current plans are to complete her Web Application Cloud Developer AAS-T with honors. Then she plans to work for a diverse tech company where she can apply her passion for coding and give back to the LGBTQ community using her newly learned skills. After establishing herself in the tech industry, she plans on continuing her education by completing her B.A.S. in Information Technology Application Development.

DARNELL MONROE

Atlanta Technical College
Physical Therapy
He/Him/His

Darnell grew up in Fayetteville, North Carolina as the oldest of five children. He loves sports, especially basketball, which he has played most of his life. Darnell experienced many challenges as a young gay man who loves sports. He was constantly bullied on and off the basketball court, and in due course, gave up playing the sport. Eventually he became comfortable with his authentic self and he joined the basketball team again. He also joined other supportive organizations and helped create a GSA at his high school. Darnell is a member of the National Gay Basketball Association, Human Rights Campaign, and the Ballroom/Vogue community. He has volunteered with various organizations to help end the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and he has been an advocate providing support to unhoused youth within the LGBTQIA+ community. Darnell is enrolled at Atlanta Technical College and is majoring in the Physical Therapy Assistant program. Upon completion of his program, he aims to transfer to Georgia State University to obtain an undergraduate degree as week as a graduate degree. As a physical therapist, he wants to create programs that assist LGBTQIA+ patients with the cost of visits. He would also like to create an advocacy group that makes physical therapists aware of the health disparities within the LGBTQIA+ community.

DEE MCMAHER

Wilbur Wright College
Paralegal Studies
They/Them/Theirs
Coach Dream It Real Scholarship

Dee McMaher is a deaf, gay, transgender person with a background in LGBTQIA+ advocacy. They started their career working with LGBTQIA+ youth, and have spent the last 10 years working as an educator and advocate for transgender children and their families. As the parent of a transgender child and a transgender person themself, Dee is well aware of the issues that transgender experience, including school and workplace discrimination, bullying, and limited access to healthcare. They have learned how to help children and families overcome such issues by providing education to school staff, guiding people through processes like name and gender marker changes, and becoming an expert in legal protections for transgender people. Dee is pursuing an education in legal studies, starting with the American Bar Association accredited paralegal program at Wright College. Dee will put their education into practice through an internship with the Center for Disability and Elder Law working with LGBTQIA+ disabled and elderly individuals. They plan to continue their studies and get a Masters of Jurisprudence and then continue their legal advocacy work on a broader scale. Their dream is to do the research that supports legal cases and policy advocacy that can lead to more systemic change for LGBTQIA+ people.

SHAY MATTISON

Broward College
Architecture
She/Her/They
Broward LEADS Scholarship

Shanette grew up in Miramar, Florida a child of Jamaican immigrants. As a child, it was crucial for her and her siblings to regularly attend church and be very involved in the Christian faith. However, in middle school, Shanette began to become aware of her sexuality. Later, privately classifying herself as bisexual, Shanette continued to attend church while struggling with her sense of faith and self-identity. As a way to alleviate her struggles, Shanette found solace in writing poetry. So, in her sophomore year of high school, she joined her school’s poetry club where she eventually became Secretary of the Spoken Dreams Poetry Club at Mcfatter Technical High School. The poetry club went to competition at “Louder than a Bomb” Florida where they performed a group piece bringing awareness to domestic violence and the victims that took them to the semifinals. Her plan after completing her time at Broward College- where she is currently pursuing her Associate of Arts in Architecture- is to transfer to Florida International University to continue her education and obtain her Master of Architecture. Along the way, she would also like to explore the field of construction management to fulfill her ultimate goal of becoming both an architect and a general contractor. As a new member of her college’s Gay-Straight Alliance, Shanette intends to deepen her connections with the LGBTQIA+ community and become a proud advocate.

VINCE MARTINEZ

San Antonio College
Computer Programming
He/Him/His
Toyota Scholarship

Raised in San Antonio, TX, by a single mother, Vincent Martinez began his college career as a first-generation college student. He is currently pursuing a career as a software engineer.

With the help of his background in philosophy, Vince hopes to create software that promotes and inspires people to realize their vision. He believes everyone has a vision of the world that is better than the world as it is now. The software he designs will aid ambitious people to act toward that vision.

As a demi-bisexual, Vince grew up without understanding himself and his sexuality. He felt that everyone’s experiences never seemed to fit his experiences. Without an example in the community, he struggled to discover his identity. Over time, Vince learned to silence the voices that criticized him for subverting expectations and learned to listen to his own inner values. This lesson has influenced how he interacts with others—with the utmost respect for their values.

Vince is truly an educator at heart. He has worked as a TRIO professional for over seven years—helping first-generation, low-income high school students prepare for college success. His aim in life is intimately tied to helping people reach the potential for the life they choose. He understands the importance of people’s need to know themselves and the values they hope to realize in the world.

AVERY MALTZ

Holyoke Community College
Biology
They/Them/Theirs
Wells Fargo Scholarship

Avery Maltz is a genderqueer and neurodivergent biology student based in western Massachusetts. Originally from Manhattan, they struggled with undiagnosed learning disabilities and homophobic bullying in middle and high school. The impact of these struggles prevented them from succeeding in higher education and they spent their 20s working many jobs and building a career as a visual artist. After receiving an ADHD diagnosis at age 30, Avery returned to college to pursue a degree in STEM. Along with discovering their passion for academia, Avery has been deeply engaged in serving their community as the president and founder of the Neurodiversity Club, NSF STEM Scholar, biology peer tutor and supplemental instructor, and Vice President of Service in Phi Theta Kappa. Their academic research explores connections between the mutualism of complex forest systems and the potential for humans to embrace social structures built on mutual aid. Through interdisciplinary honors research on social movements, complex systems science, and tree communication, Avery studies the intersectionality of liberation from systems of oppression. Avery is also the caretaker of the Holyoke Community College greenhouse and their research has been greatly influenced by their work with the plants. They plan to continue their studies with a focus on ecology, while building interdisciplinary knowledge of social justice and an understanding of how different cultures relate to the natural worlds that they inhabit. Avery feels strongly about amplifying the voices of marginalized people and intends to leverage their passion for natural sciences towards a more accessible and just world.

KIRSTEN LOESEL

Columbus State Community College
Human Development and Community Engagement
She/Her/Hers
Victoria’s Secret Scholarship

Kirsten grew up in the postindustrial lakeside city of Erie, Pennsylvania. She is the oldest of six children and still visits home often. Kirsten spent the majority of her formative years balancing rigorous academic expectations with a love of pop punk and concert going. After graduating high school, she moved to Santa Rosa, California to be with family living on the west coast and hoped to see more of the country. Undecided and aimless with the direction of her life, Kirsten pursued a long-distance relationship that led to her move to Columbus, Ohio, where she currently resides. While the initial relationship that sparked the move no longer motivates her staying in the Midwest, her community has anchored her for a sixth year. In Ohio she learned about feminism, her exploration of bisexuality and her passion for education. This self-realization came from two consecutive years of service with City Year, an educational nonprofit and much ambitious personal reading. Kirsten currently teaches for Columbus City Schools while working simultaneously to achieve her degree in human development and community engagement. Kirsten continues to share her love of hula hooping and shoe shining with her students as they learn to navigate social emotional wellness and foundational phonics. Her dream community role is to be a school librarian who works to bring equitable and accessible education to all her students.

PEYTON LIU

Irvine Valley College
Public Health
She/Her/Hers
Coach Dream It Real Scholarship

Throughout her life, Peyton Liu has explored the power behind compassion and love. She moved from China to Irvine, California recently to begin a new chapter in her life journey. Upon arrival, Peyton engaged with her new environment quickly by reaching out to her fellow LGBTQ+ community, school faculty, and volunteering organizations. The connections she built with others helped her erase the trauma that she experienced in the past. Learning from the stories of other LGBTQ+ members, victims of domestic violence, suicide loss survivors, sexual assault survivors, and marginal population, she discovered a passion and an aspiration in supporting others. Peyton currently works as a teaching assistant in three different educational programs, two of which are non-profit. She is also a volunteer in Chinese Rainbow Network Inc., which is the largest community organization for Chinese sexual/gender minorities. Building capacity with those organizations allows her to have a unique vision of the existing social issues. Peyton hopes to see more people come out with pride and confidence in the future, and for there to be more compassion and empathy in our society. Peyton aims to major in Public Health and pursue a medical degree after finishing her bachelor’s degree. Beyond her academic goals, she intends to push the community forward and bring more power into action.

MK KELLISON

Community Based Education College
Physical Therapy
They/Them/Theirs

MK grew up in a working-class family in the most conservative county in the Florida Panhandle, and they now reside in Los Angeles. After leaving home at 17, they focused on mutual aid activism for the unhoused while writing creatively and pursuing an English degree. A few years later, latent injuries from a car accident made them become passionate about physical therapy as a way to directly help others.     A survivor of queerphobic domestic violence following a divorce, MK has re-focused their activism to helping those in similar situations gain access to resources to protect themselves and heal from the damaging effects of intimate partner violence – especially those facing oppression for their LGBTQ+ identity. MK continued to volunteer with groups like the National Lawyer’s Guild, Code Pink, and Black Lives Matter in pursuit of justice for victims of state violence. Chosen family has been instrumental in MK’s path to return to college in pursuit of a career in physical therapy. They hope to use their knowledge of the medical field, background as a communicator, and understanding of social structures to help patients build trust as they recover. After graduating and becoming licensed, they plan to work as a physical therapist assistant then possibly pursue a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program. When not studying or writing about social justice issues, MK enjoys dancing, kickboxing, and seeing live music. They hope to record an audio version of their 2020 chapbook ‘feral’, which deals with their brief time living on the road from 2017-2019, later this year.

ZAHRIYANNAH KARAKASHIAN-JONES

North Shore Community College
Economics
She/Her/Hers
Victoria’s Secret Scholarship

Zahriyannah Karakashian-Jones is currently serving as the Student Body President at North Shore Community College. To support herself in school, she works as the Sales and Services Manager at a swim school for children. She is also the founder of Grassroots Brookline, an organization that coordinates country-wide diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives such as Juneteenth events, PRIDE marches, and Disability Awareness Walks. These events provide educational opportunities to continually support the furtherance of inclusivity in education, workplaces, and communities in her hometown of Brookline, MA and across the nation. Given her professional experiences and her leadership in the community, she has earned a reputation as a pillar in the realm of diversity, equity, and inclusion capable of bringing about and maintaining true, positive change.

MONIQUE GRIFFIN

Lane Community College
Sociology
She/Her/Hers
Alvin O. McCray & Jason M. Rudman Scholarship

Monique is a freshman pre-law student at Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon. Her goal is to become a lawyer so she can participate in the effort to change a system that wasn’t designed by people like her and is not equitable for marginalized people. She is proudly tri-cultural: a bi-racial Black trans woman raised in a primarily white Deaf household where American Sign Language was her first language. Born and raised in Eugene Oregon, her early experiences included not only racism and transphobia in public schools, but also having to help her mom navigate bureaucratic social services.  As a result, she has dedicated her life to creating equitable systems for all people. In addition to attending school full-time, she works two jobs, closely follows politics, and volunteers in a variety of ways in the community.

JOSE GAMBOA

Seminole State College
International Relations
He/Him/His
Coach Dream It Real Scholarship

Jose grew up in Catia La Mar, a small coastal town in Venezuela where he spent most of his youth. He went on to study political sciences at Universidad Central de Venezuela and to serve as a Youth Outreach Coordinator for then Venezuelan congressman Juan Guaido and as an activist for the LGBTQ+ Movement Pro-Inclusion. Unfortunately, due to this activism, Jose had to leave Venezuela due to political persecution and targeted harassment. After leaving Venezuela, Jose found a new home in the United States as a refugee. He has been living in the Central Florida area for the past five years, where he continues to work to achieve his dreams. Jose is currently attending Seminole State College where he looks to obtain his associate degree and then transfer to the University of Central Florida to pursue a bachelor’s degree in International Relations. He is very active in his community as an alumnus of the Orlando New Leaders Council and an activist for the Venezuelan community in the U.S. Jose has been working since February of 2021 for ActBlue as a Democratic Politics and Elections associate, helping democratize political fundraising through online tools and helping candidates and committees up and down the ballot. Jose is passionate, dedicated, and fueled by the desire to make the world a more fair and inclusive place for all. A commitment he fights for no matter where his path may take him.

JASMINE FLORES-NUNEZ

Santa Rosa Junior College
Fashion Design
They/She/He

Jasmine is a genderfluid person from Santa Rosa, California. They grew up participating in theatre their whole life and found their love for clothing and fashion at a young age. Raised by a single mom, they were taken care of by many people and lived with their grandma for a summer when they were nine years old. This was the summer that they learned to sew and patch up their clothes. They used these skills in future performances to help tailor costumes, and to start small projects with their dolls’ clothes. Jasmine plans to study fashion design to provide people with clothing that helps them feel seen. They aspire to change the fashion industry’s manufacturing process to be more ethical and sustainable. They are studying at the Santa Rosa Junior College and will transfer to a four-year university in the fall of 2023.

TIFFANY FLORENDO

Barstow Community College
Psychology
She/Her/Hers

Tiffany was born in Los Angeles, CA and raised by a single mother and her grandparents, so she always had people who would cultivate and encourage her unique individuality. Tiffany always questioned everything from religion and beliefs to sexuality. Brought up Christian, but later converted to Buddhism, Tiffany was a free spirit and adventurer since birth. As a girl with a huge heart eager to love and help others, Tiffany was never afraid to be unapologetically herself. Being a lesbian was something Tiffany discovered at a young age. It was never something she was ashamed of. Tiffany always longed for a coming out story, but when she finally came out, everyone already knew. Some accepted her and others did not, but that never detoured Tiffany from being her true self. Effected by mental health and homelessness in her later years, a seed was planted that would the beginning of her dream for the future. Experiencing many hardships and traumas in her life, she began to think about what type of world she wanted herself and the legacy she would leave for her daughter. She is putting herself through school while she works herself through the shelter system, with the goal of obtaining a degree in psychology. Her dream is to open a healing facility that is open to people from all walks of life, regardless socioeconomic status.

JENNIFER FARIS

Montgomery County Community College
Psychology
They/Them/Theirs
Lands’ End Scholarship

Jennifer Faris was raised in a small town in Pennsylvania, within a conservative Christian society that heavily discriminated against the LGBTQ+ community. She lived with a sense of shame and closeted identity until she finally broke free of that repressive culture in 2015. Through an extensive pursuit of healing through the arts of meditation and yoga, Jennifer was able to rise up from the oppression of her past, and proudly identifies as bisexual.

CHEYENNE DIEHL

Montgomery County Community College
Anthropology and Hawaiian Studies
She/Her/Hers
Victoria’s Secret Scholarship

Cheyenne is a first-generation college student from the small, conservative town of York, Pennsylvania. Growing up, she always felt out of place, and early in her teen years, she learned that her father adopted her when she was a toddler. On top of her new cultural identity to explore, she accepted her bisexuality in high school at the ire of religious friends and family members.  Initially, she aspired to join the military. She became quickly redirected after an injury prevented her from service. She stumbled upon cosmetology school and the hair industry after a few years in the workforce. About five years ago, she moved to the Philadelphia area to pursue a more accepting, LGBTQ+ friendly space. She loves the more free-spirited community she has found in the City of Brotherly Love. She enjoys the social aspect of being a hairstylist but aspires to travel the world and gain knowledge and experience that she can use to help others in various ways. She aims to study anthropology and Hawaiian studies at the University of Hawai’i to help develop new avenues to help the indigenous kanaka population and pass knowledge on to future generations. Another of her lifelong goals is to start a non-profit organization for those who want to learn more about cultures, both familiar and unknown, in hopes of using global connectivity to break down ethnocentric barriers and spur important conversations about culture, xenophobia, and societal norms.

GRACIELA CAIN

Florida State College at Jacksonville
African American Studies
They/Them/Theirs
Alvin O. McCray & Jason M. Rudman Scholarship

Graciela is from Jacksonville, Florida, a place that is commonly referred to as the bold city of the south. Yet, they have found it to be a place of hidden systemic oppression. Throughout the years, they struggled to find a space in their Mexican and African diaspora, only to feel confused, ostracized, and disoriented.  After a devastating car accident in 2016, they found hope and acceptance by carving out their own haven. They soon learned to make noise in the void of historic silences. In the summer of 2018 Graciela created a dance party called Duval Folx in direct response to violence to Black, transgender and non-binary people in Jacksonville. The community continues to inspire Graciela to form their own space and build capacity for the movement. Graciela has made it their life’s mission to continue to create safe ecosystems for BIPOC, queer and transgender youth in the South. After several years of working independently as a musician, community organizer and care coordinator Graciela returned to higher education to fulfill their vision. They hope to bring their perspective as a direct service worker, community organizer, musician, and deep knowledge of nonprofits to academia. Graciela currently attends Florida State College at Jacksonville where they aspire to obtain their associate degree in art. In the future they hope to transfer to Georgia State University and major in African American Studies.

GRADY BRUNELLE

Orange County Community College
Journalism
He/Him/His

Grady grew up in Middletown, New York, which is about an hour north of NYC. Growing up with two moms, he has always been submerged in the loving energy of the LGBTQ+ community and was taught the importance of acceptance and equality at a very young age. Upon realizing that he is transgender in seventh grade, he isolated himself as best he could from everyone else, but he wasn’t able to avoid teasing and harassment at school. He usually muddled through and didn’t say anything when being harassed, until one day he saw a friend – another transgender student – being taunted in the same way. He knew he didn’t want anyone else to feel the way he did, so he created a GSA in his school, which now holds weekly meetings and completes projects to promote acceptance and support throughout the school. Grady realized that not everyone has the kind of support that he has at home, and wanted to create a space for kids to have undivided support and acceptance regardless of their identity or where they are in their journey. Now in high school, Grady continues his work with the high school GSA, as the president. He also frequently writes articles on LGBTQ+ issues for his high school newspaper, of which he is the editor. He is going to study Journalism at SUNY Orange this fall, with plans to transfer and become a full-time writer and advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. He is also deeply involved with Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY), a program for high school students that teaches life-changing inclusive leadership skills. He has big plans for the future, and absolutely cannot wait to get started!

HENRY BREMER

SUNY Broome Community College
Liberal Arts
He/Him/His
David H. Steward & M. Pierre Friedrichs Scholarship

Henry was born and raised in Binghamton, New York and moved to the Finger Lakes region shortly after coming out as transgender in middle school. He has fallen in love with the Ithaca area, where he currently lives, and especially its community, which fosters an atmosphere of inclusivity and activism in various groups both on and off its local campuses. Thanks to his love of his current home and the endless support of his close family, Henry has been able to overcome and/or manage several severe physical and mental health issues. He is currently a thriving student at SUNY Broome Community College and is looking forward to returning to campus in Fall 2021. Henry was also elected Officer of Service for Phi Theta Kappa’s Mu Eta chapter for the 2021-2022 academic year, and hopes to use his position to help uplift his fellow LGBTQ+ students and further various social issues on his campus. After graduating in May 2022, Henry hopes to transfer into a two-year bachelor’s degree program in history. He also plans on pursuing several advanced degrees in British history, with a focus in Victorian studies and the British Empire. Henry’s dream is to use his passion for history as a lens to help his peers see the origins of modern issues and oppressions, creating a foundation for activism and social change.

EM BELTRAN

Saddleback Community College
Music
She/Her/Hers
Bryan A. Fitzgerald Scholarship

Em Beltran has spent most of her life in Oceanside, California. She was raised part of her life by a single lesbian mother until 2017, when she gained another mother who loved her. Em went to an elementary school for performing arts, where she first got a taste of different art forms. For the first two and a half years of high school, she believed her calling was writing. She spent most of her time figuring out how to become a writer, writing on any piece of paper she could find. At one point, she experienced a harsh mental rough patch that left her with permanent writer’s block. Luckily, she found another creative outlet through dance, in which she participated during her junior and senior years. While she expresses herself in many ways, her constant comfort art form is music. After graduating high school in 2020, she made a sudden but deliberate change and enrolled in Saddleback College as a music major. She also started to come out as pansexual to those she trusted. She plans to transfer to a four-year university, majoring in music technology. The music she plans to create will reflect her adversities along with her triumphs.

DANIELLE BEALE

Reynolds Community College
Social Science
They/Them/Theirs
Alvin O. McCray & Jason M. Rudman Scholarship

Danielle was raised as an only child by two adoptive parents in a very religious home. They attended church regularly as a child and felt a disconnect from their family because of their sexual identity. They left home at an early age to find a family in the LGBTQ+ community, only to face constant struggles and many disappointments in trying to find their sexual identity. Their journey took them through many bad situations, landing on the wrong side of the track for several years. Now they are using the lessons learned from those struggles to better themselves. Given the dire need to support LGBTQ+ community members behind prison walls, Danielle is currently volunteering for a nonprofit organization that provides services and resources to inmates who are being released back into society. Since 2019, Danielle has provided numerous incarcerated LGBTQ+ inmates with resources and support. Danielle will be attending Reynolds Community College in the Fall of 2021 and they hope to graduate in the Fall of 2022. They will further their education at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). They hope to be involved with the LGBTQ+ community at VCU and be able to network with many people in their field of study. Danielle aims to build a strong network that can provide them with guidance and knowledge to provide better services to their community.

JOSÉ BARBOSA

Los Angeles Trade Tech College
Business/Civics
He/Him/His
Wells Fargo Scholarship

José Barbosa was born in Mexico and brought to the U.S. at the age of four, settling with his family in Northridge, California. As an immigrant he dreamed of having a career in the film industry, but quickly realized that a college education is crucial to success in the industry. José attempted to go to college many times, but he consistently faced barriers due to his immigration status. José finally received approval on his VAWA application for resident status in 2020. Since then, his life has changed tremendously, and the world has opened up for him. He enrolled at Los Angeles Trade Tech College, where he is focused on finishing his degree in business and civics. He gives back to his community by volunteering with The Shower of Hope, which alleviates common struggles for unhoused citizens. As a Buddhist, he often uses meditation to stay present and positive with a zest for life and people. José aspires to transfer to a four-year university to pursue a bachelor’s degree and eventually work in city planning.

PETER BALLUFFI-FRY

County College of Morris
International Studies
He/Him/His
David C. Kleiman Scholarship

An avid Dungeons & Dragons player and gay man, Peter Balluffi-Fry is a 23-year-old International Studies Major at the County College of Morris in Randolph, New Jersey. After facing a severe physical illness in high school, Peter was hit hard as his academic and social life fell out from under him. With the added strain of harassment for his queer identity, Peter tumbled into a debilitating state of depression and had to drop out of high school. However, with the help of his family and relatives, Peter was able to recover as he came to accept his gay identity and learn to mentally thrive again. He completed his GED in 2020 and began attending the County College of Morris as the COVID-19 pandemic began. Given his newfound mental resilience, Peter quickly adapted to the virtual environment. He pushed himself into his studies with higher level honors courses, joined extracurricular clubs and honor society chapters, and re-founded his school’s Model UN as its president. Peter also began working as a peer mentor for students with social and learning disabilities in the fall of 2020, supporting his peers in acquiring their own degrees. Peter plans to receive his associate’s with honors in the spring of 2022 before he transfers to a university on the east coast. Eventually, he intends to either study international law or pursue a master’s degree in public policy so he can make a difference on the global stage.

ARIANNA BAEZ

Broward College
Graphic Design
She/Her/Hers
Donald Cummins Scholarship

Arianna came to the United States when she was 13 years old from Venezuela. She and her family were escaping political persecution. Despite hoping her situation would improve throughout her academic journey, she faced discrimination as a result of her language barrier and immigration status. She attended Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School from 2016 to 2020. In those years, she struggled with a lack of identity, including sexual orientation. As part of her search for acceptance, she participated in numerous clubs and activities such as National Honor Society, Spanish Club, Art Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, Cardinal Newman Society Catholic Club, multicultural shows, debate tournaments, Relay For Life, fostering shelter animals, completing human trafficking awareness projects, tutoring peers, doing face-painting for children, helping with school beautification projects, and being a teacher’s assistant. After high school, she enrolled as a student at Broward College (BC), where she became a member of BC’s Gay-Straight Alliance, Honor college, and the American Institute of Graphic Arts. She will graduate from BC in the summer of 2022, and plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in graphic design at University of Florida while obtaining a Google UX Professional Certificate. Her goal is to build a curriculum and a unique portfolio that she hopes will outshine her immigration status restriction.

ALEXZANDER BAETSEN


Montgomery College
Elementary Education
They/Them/Theirs
Guidehouse LLP Scholarship

A native of Montgomery County, Maryland, Alexzander Baetsen is an openly queer, non-binary student attending Montgomery College. Despite growing up in Maryland’s most diverse region, Alexzander faced many instances of queerphobia in their county’s public schools and bore witness to numerous academic barriers encountered by other marginalized communities, instilling in them a profound determination to abolish inequities within America’s education system. In Fall 2019, Alexzander was accepted into the Montgomery Scholars program, where they channeled their passion for social justice into a year-long, independent research study on the global implications of the school-to-prison pipeline. While completing their associate degree, Alexzander has served their community by assisting food distribution sites during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing individualized conversation practice to ESL students, and conducting trash data collection in their community’s wildlife areas. Alexzander is employed as a peer-mentoring curriculum developer and grant writer for the non-profit organization Family Learning Solutions Inc., advancing efforts to provide social-emotional mentoring opportunities to underserved students. They also act as the assistant creative director of the Food Grown Home project, which orchestrates initiatives to address food insecurity and promote sustainability by empowering individuals to grow their own food. Following their graduation from Montgomery College, Alexzander plans to obtain a master’s degree in elementary education and spend a few years in the teaching profession. After gaining comprehensive experience as an educator, Alexzander intends to pursue a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and secure a position where they can utilize their pedagogical philosophy to develop and influence educational policy.

ALEXIS ASK


Bunker Hill Community College
Psychology
She/Her/Hers
David C. Kleiman Scholarship

Alexis is a queer student, poet, and dancer from the Boston area. She realized she wanted to go into the mental health field after experiencing and witnessing the structural violence that exists within the mental health system as a teenager. She realized education is a path that would empower her to help envision and build a better world. She began her educational journey by obtaining her HiSet in 2019, she then trained and became a Certified Nursing Assistant. Alexis enrolled at Bunker Hill Community College in the fall of 2020 and is working toward completing a psychology degree. She hopes to become a dance and movement therapist in the future. She knows that historically, queer people and people of color have been harmed by the mental health system, and that healing is justice. She dreams of creating a space for her community to heal.

NEIL ARCELLANA

San Joaquin Delta College
Business Administration
He/Him/His
Wells Fargo Scholarship

Neil grew up in a conservative family in the Philippines, attending Catholic school and going church every Sunday to uphold his Christian faith. Upon entering puberty, Neil realized his sense of attraction was different than other guys. He began exploring his identity at an early age and often felt ashamed because he was different. Neil hid his attraction until he emigrated to the U.S. in 2019 because he feared hatred and resentment from his family. In search of assistance, Neil joined the Pride Scholars at San Joaquin Delta College, which provides support to LGBTQA+ students. Upon joining, Neil realized Pride Scholars could be an opportunity that will help him discover his true identity while being supported and accepted. He gained trust in other members of the community and learned how to stand on his own while exploring more opportunities to become involved with in his community. Neil is now an Ambassador and Student Council of Stockton Scholars and an Advocator of Changeist.

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.”