Thursday, May 21, 2009

PFLAG Announces 2009 Scholarship Winners

PFLAG National announced this week that it has awarded 16 scholarships. More than $30,000 will go to students across the country who have made significant contributions to equality in their schools and communities. This marks the sixth year that PFLAG has awarded the scholarships, which are funded by the Palmer B. Carson Trust and other private donors, including the Gay, Lesbian and Allies at Dow (GLAD) Employee Network, the Esera Tuaolo Scholarship fund, and the New York Gay Football League.

"Now, more than ever, PFLAG is extremely proud to honor these future community leaders and to honor their academic achievement, commitment to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) progress, and community service," said Jody M. Huckaby, Executive Director of PFLAG. "LGBT students, and their allies, are overcoming unimaginable obstacles to succeed and prosper in their education. This year’s awardees have not only fought those obstacles, but have become role models for their communities and fellow students.”

Among the recipients of PFLAG's National Scholarship Program awards are:

Thomas Gray - Jeanne Manford Memorial Scholarship
Thomas Gray began the diversity club (L.E.A.D - Lancers Embracing All Diversity) at his school, and worked to include sexual orientation and gender identity into his school district’s nondiscrimination policy. He has also been an active member of the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) and Student Council. Thomas organized a successful fundraiser and raised more than $7,000 for HIV/AIDS and cancer research. When the Westboro Baptist Church demonstrated at his school he organized a peaceful and positive counter demonstration. As an activist and organizer he has worked to make his school and his community safer for all. Thomas will graduate from Shawnee Mission East in Prairie Village, Kansas.

Sean Hudson - PFLAG National Scholarship
Sean Hudson was a member of the Birmingham Alliance of Gay, Straight, and Lesbian (Transgender and Questioning) Youth. He is a passionate activist, advocate and role model for children in foster care, serving as the parliamentarian for the Jefferson County Youth Advisory Council, and the president of the State Youth Advisory Council. Sean plans to continue to reach out to others and to help them while they, in fact, also help him. Sean will graduate from Jess Lanier High-School in Bessemer, Alabama.

Kelsey DeForest – Palmer B. Carson Memorial Scholarship
Kelsey DeForest is an active member of her school’s GSA and theater program. She is also a reporter and editor of her school’s newspaper. She interned with The Metro Youth Outreach Program at the GLBT Community Center of Cleveland, where she worked with at-risk and homeless youth. Kelsey has used her skills and compassion to reach out and make a difference in the lives of others. Kelsey will graduate from Shaker Heights High School in Shaker Heights, Ohio.

Shelagh Hardrich - DOW Straight Ally Scholarship
Shelagh Hardrich worked with friends to re-invigorate the GSA at her school. She is a member of her school’s volleyball and girls’ golf team, and active in the French club. She volunteers with community groups such as the Open Door Mission, the Abrahams Public Library, and is a tutor for elementary-age students. As a proud straight ally, Shelagh believe in fairness, justice and compassion for everyone. Shelagh will graduate from Northwest High-School in Omaha, Nebraska.

Simone Getty – New York Gay Football League Scholarship
Simone Getty was the president of her school’s GSA. She was also elected student body President and Homecoming Queen. She played on the Girls’ Varsity Tennis Team and the Track and Field team, and was awarded Third in League in Girls’ Varsity Tennis Doubles. Through public visibility Simone has shown her community and school why equality is so important. Simone will graduate from Santa Clara High-School in Santa Clara, California.

Jacob DeVine – PFLAG National Scholarship
Jacob DeVine has served as a peer mentor for LGBT students in his small community, and worked to ensure that any students facing harassment or bullying had the support that they needed. He is active in his school’s drama program and concert choir. He also works with an anti-drug leadership program called Target and helped to organize an anti-drunk driving campaign during the week of Prom. In a small rural Midwest town he has demonstrated leadership and courage changing hearts and minds one person at a time. Jake will graduate from Little Falls Community High School in Little Falls, Minnesota.

Dena Wessel –PFLAG National Scholarship
Dena Wessel helped to organize a GSA in her middle school and was an active member of the GSA at her high school. She participated in the GSAFE (Gay Straight Alliance for Safe Schools) planning committee and is a member of Proud Theater, where she serves as the Youth Artistic Director. Dena plays on her school’s Varsity Tennis Team, is a member of Top T.E.N, Teen Education Network, and has worked with her church youth group on various community service projects. A born activist with creative talent, Dena uses all different means to educate. Dena will graduate from Madison West High School in Madison, Wisconsin.

Jesse Quinn – PFLAG National Scholarship
Jesse Quinn started the GSA at his high-school, and it is now the largest student group on campus. Jesse testified before the Oregon State Senate and sat down with his state representative to lobby for stronger anti-bullying laws. He was also a member of the Chess Team as an All-State Chess Champion, works on the student council, and is a member of the recycling club. Sharing his story served to strengthen his commitment to the community and the work that needs to be done to ensure equality. Jesse will graduate from Pleasant Hill High-School in Pleasant Hill, Oregon.

Jennifer Rokakis – PFLAG National Scholarship
Jennifer Rokakis is the President of her school’s GSA where she started the “Candlelight Vigil against Hate Crimes” in order to bring diverse student groups together for a common purpose. She was awarded the Girl Scout Bronze and Silver Award, is a member of the National Honor Society, and worked at her school’s radio station. As a straight ally, she has suffered the same bullying and taunting that her gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender fellow students face but she is committed to using her voice in the community for change. Jennifer will graduate from Canton High School in Canton, Michigan.

Ryan Dykes - Carson B Palmer Nevada Scholarship
Ryan Dykes’ struggle with coming out had a great deal to do with his family’s acceptance. It has reaffirmed his belief in himself and the community. Ryan is the Varsity Swim Team Captain at his high-school. He has participated in a number of community service projects, such as community food drives and the American Heart Association Fashion show. He is also an active volunteer with his local food bank, elementary school library, and senior citizen family home. Ryan will graduate from Douglas High-School in Minden, Nevada.

[picture forthcoming] Francis Jordan - Esera Tuaolo Schoalrship
Francis Jordan is a teen educator for the OWL (Our Whole Lives) health and education program that teaches comprehensive sex education to teens. He is also a member of the youth group at his church where he has completed various community service projects, such as building homes in Juarez, Mexico. Francis is the captain of his Varsity Cheerleading Squad. Although having suffered greatly in middle school from bullying, Francis has turned things around and wants to help others in the same situation. Francis will graduate from Santa Teresa High-School in Santa Teresa, New Mexico.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations to all of you strong, courageous young people. You have earned these awards!

ron said...

What good news. So many good young people working for equality for all. I say to them, thank you for your courage.

Anonymous said...

Other good LGBT scholarships come from The Point Foundation - close to 15k per student. this will cover a lot of college tuition. They provide support and personal mentoring along with the gay scholarship which is second to none. This is one must apply to scholarship program for gays before all other ones. If you don't beieve me ceck out thier website and see for your self.

Steven said...

Congrats Ryan...a year late I know. LOL

But, I am not sure where I would be had I not taking the risk to apply for my scholarship. Now, since receiving my money I have been able to experience so much.

Again congratulations to you Ryan and all of you who have received the scholarship.

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