Meet the 2011 Point Scholars

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com June 08 2011 2:30 AM ET

The Point Foundation, the world's largest scholarship-granting organization for LGBT students, has just named its class of 2011. The 34 graduate and undergraduate students awarded financial assistance this year are from places as disparate as Malaysia, Morocco, and Massachusetts — the qualities all these young people share is an amazing work ethic, an ability to overcome hardship, and an ambition to change the world for the better. Meet the class of 2011 below, and click here to learn more about the Point Foundation.

2011 POINT SCHOLARS MOUNIA ABOUSAID X560 | ADVOCATE.COM

Mounia Abousaid
- from Rabat, Morocco
- pursuing a BA in philosophy at Columbia University

How do you feel your Point Scholarship will change or help your future?
There’s the obvious financial answer – I was raised by a single mother, and Point’s help will be invaluable in paying for college. However, the aspect of Point Foundation that I feel will affect my life the most is its community. I think that the mentoring, leadership training and friendships the Point Scholarship will make available to me will allow me to become much more involved in the LGBTQ community and a true queer leader.

In conjunction with Point, how do you wish to make difference in the LGBT community?
I wish I had a detailed plan. At this point, instead of a 12-point agenda of things to do to help the LGBT community, all I have is a series of lofty goals I’ve tried to work on and that I will continue to work on with Point’s help. I’d like to continue to work to make the schools safer for queer kids, through helping establish and sustain GSA’s. In conjunction with Point and its mission, I would generally like to help queer youth in every way I can: whether through volunteering at youth shelters or through helping Point fundraise. In addition, as a committed feminist as well as queer activist, I plan on conciliating both through work on sex education.2011 POINT SCHOLARS ISAIAH BAISIRI X560 | ADVOCATE.COM

Isaiah Baiseri
- from Glendora, Calif.
- pursuing a BA in Design Media Arts at the University of California, Los Angeles
- Wells Fargo Point Scholarship recipient

How do you feel your Point Scholarship will change or help your future?
My Point Scholarship will allow me to continue making a difference in the LGBT community in ways I already have and grant me access to opportunities I could have never imagined. Having already been an activist throughout high school at both local and state levels, I thought I would have to give it all up and focus on making money to support myself throughout college. Both my parents lost their jobs six months ago, and my dad unfortunately faces another life-threatening surgery (his twelfth in the past fifteen years). With my Point Scholarship, my family will be free to focus on getting back on their feet, and I can continue the activist work I have previously enjoyed, such as serving on the Gay-Straight Alliance's Board of Directors. I'll also get the chance to focus on and further my studies and eventual career as a multimedia artist creating pro-equality media. Having no previous connection to the creative industry, the mentor Point Foundation will provide me with will expand my horizons and support me as I make my way into a challenging career market.

In conjunction with Point, how do you wish to make a difference in the LGBT community?
My goals in the LGBT community are both political and cultural. As a member of the Gay-Straight Alliance Network's Board of Directors, I will continue helping guide the organization to empower youth activists to fight homophobia and transphobia in schools. I will also continue with the organization to create new and innovative educational workshops for student leaders and help replicate our youth-empowerment model nationwide. Career-wise, as a multimedia artist, I hope to develop projects that compel audiences to see the suffering anti-LGBT discrimination causes and support the fight for overall equality.2011 POINT SCHOLARS JEREMY BEARERFRIEND X560 | ADVOCATE.COM

Jeremy Bearer-Friend
- from Providence, R.I.
- pursuing a JD at Stanford Law School

How do you feel your Point Scholarship will change or help your future?
The Point Foundation is making it possible for me to go to law school. Since I'm financially independent and don't get support from my parents, I wouldn't be able to get a J.D. without also accumulating over $100,000 of debt. Thanks to Point, I can graduate from law school and still pursue a public interest career.

In conjunction with Point, how do you wish to make difference in the LGBT community?
I believe tax policy can play a transformative role in making schools safer for LGBT youth. How can we expect teachers to effectively intervene in bullying when they're managing a class of 25 to 40 students? Bullying is never acceptable, but it's much harder to stop in overstuffed classrooms with over-extended teachers. Improving our school system requires a robust public finance infrastructure, something that the Point Foundation is supporting me to work on.2011 POINT SCHOLARS ADRIAN CAPELLO X560 | ADVOCATE.COM

Adrian Capello
- from Baton Rouge, La.
- pursuing a BS in neuroscience at Centenary College of Louisiana2011 POINT SCHOLARS TAYLOR CLARKE  X560 | ADVOCATE.COM

Taylor Clarke
- from Lowell, Mass.
- pursuing a BA in political science and women's and gender studies, Columbia University

How do you feel your Point Scholarship will change or help your future?
I’m so excited to join a community of individuals really devoted to queer issues. I’m really looking forward to getting to know everyone involved with Point, and learning from my peers and mentors. Point will also make it possible for me to pursue my education further than the undergraduate level. Following graduation, I will be able to pursue a PhD. in gender and sexuality, which I hope to use to participate in queer scholarship, be more active in LGBTQ activism, and get engaged in policy work.

In conjunction with Point, how do you wish to make difference in the LGBT community?
I have always had the support of accepting environments and communities, and I would hope that one day all LGBTQ youth can have similar experiences to mine. I’d like to do whatever I can to promote this kind of acceptance – through education and politics primarily. I believe that these, especially the former, are the best tools and platforms with which to fight ignorance.2011 POINT SCHOLARS TOMMY CRAVEN  X560 | ADVOCATE.COM

Tommy Craven
- from Jasper, Ind.
- pursuing a BA in business, New York University
- Toyota Financial Services Point Scholarship

How do you feel your Point Scholarship will change (or help) your future?
Coming from a very low-income family, the thought of having a majority of my college education paid for through the Point Foundation makes me feel like I can accomplish anything and that nothing can set me back. Having financial strain removed from your worries is one of the greatest feelings a person can have, in my opinion. But beyond the obvious lack of debt, Point will increase my chance for involvement and commitment to LGBT efforts that I wasn’t able to give in high school. Point will also provide contacts and opportunities to ensure I not only have success in contributing to the LGBT community, but also in my career and future ventures.  But, most importantly, Point has and will continue to provide for me a sense of family, community, and support that is hard to find elsewhere. The people involved with Point are so caring and committed that I am honored to be a part of the organization and can’t wait for the experiences ahead.

In conjunction with Point, how do you wish to make difference in the LGBT community?
The opportunity is now to spread the values of our community and its mission. Hoping to have a film degree in four years, I want to use my skills in marketing and media to show the world who we are and what we stand for. Our world is becoming a lot more responsive to visual learning rather than the “textbook” style. Shows like Glee and Modern Family are using LGBT characters in way that promotes goodwill and betterment, and it’s time to expand the concept. Making documentaries and box-office films that tell stories, yet show the reality of the LGBT community and its people is something I want to pursue to change the stereotypes and misconceptions in the general public. If they can see it, there is a better change they will believe in it. 

 2011 POINT SCHOLARS KIAN GOH X560 | ADVOCATE.COM

Kian Goh
- from Penang, Malaysia
- pursuing a PhD in urban studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology

How do you feel your Point Scholarship will change or help your future?
The Point Scholarship will enable me to pursue my PhD at MIT without undertaking significant financial hardship, and fulfill my objective to garner expertise in the fields of architecture, politics, and urban ecologies. I look forward to Point’s mentorship and leadership programs to help me confront and embrace challenges and opportunities as a scholar, to enable me to develop my own mentorship skills, and hone my abilities as a leader in the LGBT community.

In conjunction with Point, how do you wish to make difference in the LGBT community?
As an architect and activist I use my expertise in sustainable “green” design and social justice to bring forward-thinking design to those who need it most, communities that generally don’t have access to such expertise. Now I want to take this further – beyond individual buildings – to bring this engagement of social justice and design of spaces to the scale of the city and globally. My doctoral research will focus on relationships between institutional systems and social movements, including queer movements, and their impact on built and natural urban environments. My goal is to explore how such movements can be a critical part of future sustainable cities.
 2011 POINT SCHOLARS ETHAN HANSEN  X560 | ADVOCATE.COM

Ethan Hansen
- from Idaho Falls, Utah
- pursuing a BA in psychology at the University of Utah
- Vorobek Point Scholarship

How do you feel your Point Scholarship will change or help your future?
The Point Scholarship will enable me to attend college in an open environment at a queer-friendly campus.  There I will prepare to become a clinical psychologist, which will certainly impact my future and, I hope, help others at the same time.  Through the mentoring program also offered by Point, as well as through the family that Point is, I will also have a net of support and acceptance that I am extremely grateful to enjoy.  In other words, the Point Foundation is helping me open numerous doors that broaden the scope of my future.

In conjunction with Point, how do you wish to make difference in the LGBT community?
The Point Foundation gives its scholars an opportunity to share its message of hope for LGBTQ youth, and this is one part of the scholarship about which I am very enthusiastic.  As an isolated gay teenager, hearing the stories of others who had risen from similar circumstances was hugely important to me; if my story could have even a fraction of such an impact, I would be both honored and overjoyed.  I have also been amazed by the incredible people and role models I have met through the Point Foundation, and this inspiration strengthens me in the struggle for LGBTQ equality.
 2011 POINT SCHOLARS CHRIS HANSON X560 | ADVOCATE.COM

Christopher Hanson
- from Longwood, Fla.
- pursuing a JD at Northwestern University Law School
- Wells Fargo Point Scholarship

How do you feel your Point Scholarship will change or help your future?
The Point Scholarship is not just a scholarship. It’s a community of scholars, activists, dreamers, and doers. To me, meeting the fellow Point Foundation finalists in San Francisco was one of the most positively jarring experiences in my life. For years, I have worked within the LGBT community trying to bring about positive change, but San Francisco was really the first time that I was exposed to a wide variety of LGBT individuals, who selected a diverse array of mechanisms to bring about change. I was forced to re-evaluate my own tool box that I use to work inside and outside the LGBT community, and I had to decide what additional tools I wished to add to the box. The LGBT movement is not monolithic but demands several methods, strategies, and actors/actresses to bring about real positive change. To me, Point highlighted the future of the LGBT movement and how different individuals within this community can work together to supplement each other’s work. As a gay man, I lack a strong mentor within the LGBT political community, and I look forward to being involved in Point and gaining insights from those individuals that have worked in politics for years. I also cannot wait to serve as a mentor to younger members of the LGBT community and to inspire others to be comfortable with whom they are.

In conjunction with Point, how do you wish to make difference in the LGBT community?
I hope to run for political office back in my birth state of Wisconsin. I aim to demonstrate that LGBT individuals can bring about positive bipartisan change in this time period of political party feuding. I want to serve as a visible role model and to demonstrate that all LGBT individuals can attain any job or office, regardless of their sexuality or gender expression.2011 POINT SCHOLARS NAOMI JACKSON X560 | ADVOCATE.COM

Naomi Jackson
- from Brooklyn, N.Y.
- pursuing an MFA in creative writing at the University of Iowa

How do you feel your Point Scholarship will change or help your future?
I think that the Point Scholarship will allow me to complete my graduate degree without taking on additional financial burdens to complete my education, and help me considerably along the road towards being a published author.

In conjunction with Point, how do you wish to make difference in the LGBT community?

I hope to make a difference in the LGBT community by writing and publishing books that are reflective of a broad range of experiences within the community, shedding light on stories of marginalized people, especially queer people of color. 

2011 POINT SCHOLARS KAILIN KAUFFMAN JEWELL X560 | ADVOCATE.COM

Kailin Kauffman-Jewell
- from Madison, Wis.
- pursuing a BA in political science/government at the University of Wisconsin, Madison

How do you feel your Point Scholarship will change or help your future?
The leadership training Point provides will help me to further my knowledge and build networking from which to draw strength. Point’s mentoring program will help me to navigate the challenges I will face in college as a lesbian woman. A Point Scholarship will help me focus my energy on activism instead of on making ends meet. Point will create opportunities for me through access to a community of diverse and dedicated individuals. As I move forward, Point Foundation’s leadership training, mentoring, and financial support will be an incredible source of hope.

In conjunction with Point, how do you wish to make difference in the LGBT community?
With Point, I will make a difference in the LGBT community through continued activism and volunteering. The work of battling homophobia and discrimination through educational activism is very important to me. I plan to continue and expand upon this work with the help of Point Foundation. Point will help me to do this by providing networking and brainstorming opportunities, as well as feedback and support from a mentor. This summer I plan to continue my internship with Fair Wisconsin, working toward marriage equality. I also plan to become involved with several LGBT organizations at the UW Madison, as I’ve done in my high school Gay Straight Alliance, to help support students in their journeys coming out and in navigating campus life. My interaction with the Point community so far has been inspiring, and I am sure it will continue to inspire me in my choices of volunteer and career work.
 2011 POINT SCHOLARS MAGGIE KEENAN BOLGER X560 | ADVOCATE.COM

Maggie Keenan-Bolger
- from New York, N.Y.
- pursuing an MFA in interdisciplinary arts at Goddard College
- Allan Gilmour & Eric Jirgens Point Scholarship

How do you feel your Point Scholarship will change (or help) your future?
Point Foundation will not only allow me to continue my education without the pressing concern of financial need, they will offer me a supportive community, full of accomplished, passionate LGBT people and allies who are understanding of my lifestyle and supportive of my choices through life.  Being a Point Scholar means I will literally have hundreds of people behind me, rooting for my success and offering me support when I need it, particularly where in the past it has been stripped away because of my status as a queer woman.

In conjunction with Point, how do you wish to make difference in the LGBT community?
It is my hope to offer LGBT youth the support that I never got in school.  As an openly queer teaching artist in the New York public schools, I'm not only providing LGBT students with an open, driven role model, but, through theatre, I am giving them a venue to share their stories, struggles and triumphs.  I will work to fill in the gaps where our education system fails the LGBT population, teaching them about LGBT people and events in our world as well as encouraging them in their struggles to enact change and make a difference in their own communities.  2011 POINT SCHOLARS  RICKKE MANAZALA X560 | ADVOCATE.COM

Rickke Mananzala
- from Brooklyn, N.Y.
- pursuing a BA in urban studies at Columbia University School of General Studies2011 POINT SCHOLARS  BRANDON LEE MARKOWITZ X560 | ADVOCATE.COM

Brandon Lee Markowitz
- from Sharon, Mass.
- pursuing a BA/BFA from Eugene Lang College and Parsons The New School of Design

How do you feel your Point Scholarship will change or help your future?
After graduating high school at the age of eighteen, I was disowned by my birth family as a result of my sexuality. Receiving a Point scholarship will enable me to go to college so that I can make a difference in the lives of LGBT youth. It will give me the opportunity to strengthen my skills and tools in order to make a difference. Further, having a Point mentor in psychology, who works with LGBT youth and victims of abuse, will help prepare me for the obstacles I will face in the field and in the community. Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Being a Point Scholar will help me to continue to be the change I want to see in the world.

In conjunction with Point, how do you wish to make difference in the LGBT community?
I am proud of who I am, and I want other LGBT youth to be able to grow up proud of who they are as well. I am majoring in psychology and photography. I look forward to working with LGBT youth who are victims of homophobia and abuse and, I look forward to working for the eradication of these two social ills. Engaging in community service will give me more opportunities to help LGBT youth who are struggling now. I hope that sharing my story will help give hope to other LGBT youth across the nation. 2011 POINT SCHOLARS SARAH MARSHALL X560 | ADVOCATE.COM

Sarah Marshall
- from Winston-Salem, N.C.
- pursuing an MPH from Johns Hopkins University
- Darden Restaurants Point Scholarship

How do you feel your Point Scholarship will change or help your future?
The magnanimous support of Point Foundation will exculpate me from an otherwise massive burden of student loans. Unfettered from this debt, I will be free to focus on the care of medically underserved persons, placing special emphasis on helping disadvantaged members of the LGBT community. Also, I believe that my Point mentor will help me to function at my best, even when I encounter transphobia at the hospital or clinic. Medical residency will no doubt be challenging, but I need not face the additional stressors of isolation and loneliness.

In conjunction with Point, how do you wish to make difference in the LGBT community?
As a future specialist in women’s health, I would like to contribute to the LGBT community by offering comprehensive, compassionate, high-quality medical services to women who are also transgender. These services would ideally include care that is related to physical gender transition, such as hormones and certain surgical procedures, as well as routine health maintenance, such as counseling to reduce high risk behavior, and appropriate disease screening and prevention. I would also like to inspire transgender students to pursue careers in medicine and ultimately provide them with mentorship and guidance similar to what I will receive through Point.2011 POINT SCHOLARS NICK MARTINEZ X560 | ADVOCATE.COM

Nicolas Martinez
- from Corpus Christi, Tex.
- pursuing an MA in public affairs/administration at the University of Texas at Austin

How do you feel your Point Scholarship will change or help your future?
As someone who aims to pursue a career in LGBT policy, I am extremely grateful that the Point Foundation will not only help me finance my education at Georgetown University, which is at the center of all things policy and politics, but that they will also provide me with an opportunity to learn from a mentor who has already forged a similar path. This guidance, as well as the leadership training Point offers, will help me continue to grow as a leader in the LGBT community.

In conjunction with Point, how do you wish to make difference in the LGBT community?
I am excited to now be a part of the Point Foundation family because their goals parallel my own desires to help empower LGBT people to become self-fulfilled individuals and leaders. I hope to continue to do this by helping Point grow as an organization and to utilize Point's resources as I begin my career in policy-making and implementation, providing necessary resources and combating discrimination against LGBT people in general and LGBT people of color in particular.
  2011 POINT SCHOLARS KATHLEEN MCGINN X560 | ADVOCATE.COM

Kathleen McGinn
- from Howell, N.J.
- pursuing a JD at Boston University School of Law

How do you feel your Point Scholarship will change or help your future?
The scholarship I'm receiving from Point will help me professionally, personally and financially in the years to come. Professionally, the mentoring program, as well as the community service requirement, will enable me to make connections in my field and receive advice and guidance as I start law school and embark on a legal career. Financially, the support Point provides will lessen my student loan debt so that I can choose whatever career path enriches my life the most, rather than the career path that will enable me to pay off my debts. And personally, Point is its own type of family, and the support, both from other Point Scholars and from mentors and board members, will be monumental in my development as an LGBT person in the legal profession.

In conjunction with Point, how do you wish to make difference in the LGBT community?
It is very important to me to give back to the LGBT community, both in my career and in my personal life. Through the Point Scholarship I will create a community service project to help the LGBT community in Boston, and I hope to concentrate on helping homeless LGBT youth in the city. Professionally, I want to go into international human rights law with a focus in women's rights and LGBT rights, and I hope to fight for these causes both in the United States and abroad. Personally, as an LGBT individual, I hope to be a role model for future generations of LGBT youth and use my training as a lawyer to affect positive change in the LGBT community in the years to come.2011 POINT SCHOLARS EMILY MCWILLIAMS  X560 | ADVOCATE.COM

Emily McWilliams
- from Prairie du Chien, Wis.
- pursuing a JD at Northwestern University Law School
- Kevin Hummer Point Scholarship

How do you feel your Point Scholarship will change or help your future?
A Point Scholarship will give me the financial resources necessary to pursue a career as a public interest lawyer, focused on vulnerable populations such as LGBT families, immigrants, and queer youth involved in the juvenile justice system. Just as important, the Point Foundation will give me a mentor and a network of support to help me forge my career as a gender queer lesbian in the – predominately normative – professional legal world.

In conjunction with Point, how do you wish to make difference in the LGBT community?
As a Point Scholar who will be attending law school, I aim to gain the skills I need to be a versatile and strategic advocate for gay rights in the statehouse and in the courthouse. Along with my Point mentor, I also plan to design and execute a community service project with the end goal of crafting policy solutions to address the disproportionate rate at which LGBT youth are punitively punished in juvenile court and at school. Ultimately, I hope that the Point Foundation will help me to become a successful, out professional who can provide mentorship and hope to LGBT youth who, like me, are on the cusp of blazing their own trail in academia and the workforce.
 2011 POINT SCHOLARS DERRICK MILLER HANDLEY X560 | ADVOCATE.COM

Derrick Miller-Handley
- from Berkeley, Calif.
- pursuing a BA in graphic design at Pratt Institute
- Tyler Clementi Point Scholarship

How do you feel your Point Scholarship will change or help your future?
My Point Scholarship has already given me a great sense of validation for everything I have survived and accomplished as a survivor of antigay hate violence. The value of this is immeasurable. The financial support and mentorship offered by Point Foundation will help to ensure my academic and professional success at a time when I need it most.

In conjunction with Point, how do you wish to make difference in the LGBT community?
I have been fighting for LGBT justice in my community for many years. However, now with the support of Point Foundation, I hope to use the resources and broader network available to me to effect greater change. I hope to work with Point to use art and design to facilitate the sharing of wisdom and experiences of our national community in order to strengthen the work happening on the streets.2011 POINT SCHOLARS ABBEY MUZATKO X560 | ADVOCATE.COM

Abbey Muzatko
- from Greenbay, Wisc.
- pursuing a BA in fine arts at School of the Art Institute of Chicago
- Joan R. Heller Point Scholarship

How do you feel your Point Scholarship will change or help your future?
The Point Scholarship has allowed me the opportunity to attend a school that was previously out of reach financially; a school I dearly wanted to attend and one I feel I have a strong potential for success. Having a mentor makes me more confident in the possibilities for my future as well; having a successful queer adult aid me in my activism and artistic work is incredibly exciting. Point has also given me a more positive outlook on my future.They've given me an "anything is possible" outlook and because of Point I'm better equipped to achieve my goals and dreams.
 
In conjunction with Point, how do you wish to make difference in the LGBT community?
I hope to make a difference in the LGBT community with Point by creating a nonprofit gallery and classroom space for the empowerment of queer youth. Art has allowed me a safe space to explore and become confident and comfortable with my identity as a queer person. Through the creation of such an organization, I hope to enable other youth the same opportunity to grow through artistic expression.2011 POINT SCHOLARS ERIC NAKANO X560 | ADVOCATE.COM

Eric Nakano
- from San Dimas, Calif.
- pursuing an MA in public policy at Duke Stanford School of Public Policy

How do you feel your Point Scholarship will change or help your future?
A Point Scholarship ensures that the Masters Degree I need to succeed in my career is within reach. Because I aim to work in the non-profit sector, Point’s assistance enables me to focus on my academic objectives without worrying about how debt will impact my future decisions. Knowing that the day I graduate, I can pursue my passion of working for an LGBT nonprofit instead of a job that will just pay the bills is incredibly liberating and will allow me to jump right into working with some dynamic and growing Centers around the country. Beyond academics, Point’s legendary mentoring program will provide me the road map to reach my goals by helping to navigate my career choices and gain additional experience. Finally, Point’s strong and growing network of LGBT up-and-coming leaders will help me to collaborate with others interested in the work I am interested in and allow us to support one another as we grow professionally and personally.

In conjunction with Point, how do you wish to make difference in the LGBT community?
My main interests are enacting strong legal protections for LGBT people and improving social service delivery for those in the LGBT community. In rural and conservative areas of the country, we are seeing the rollback of protections given to LGBT people in places like Tennessee and the possible enactment of constitutional marriage amendments banning same sex marriage in places like Minnesota and North Carolina. I’d like to work on building the infrastructure in states like these to not only stop such legislation but to advance laws that protect the rights of LGBT people. My other interest is in working with state, local and federal agencies to establish innovative new ways of delivering social services to the LGBT community. Recently, the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center was awarded a grant by the federal government to create a pioneering foster care program that would place LGBT youth in supportive housing. Such a program will not only serve as a model for the rest of the nation and revolutionize service delivery but could be also used as a blueprint for how to deliver other social services to the community. I intend to accomplish these goals by running a nonprofit like the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center to pioneer innovation in social service programs and to one day run for office myself to work for the passage of LGBT friendly legislation. The Point Foundation’s mentors and network will prove pivotal in helping me to reach my goals and provide me with the support and access I need to be successful.
 2011 POINT SCHOLARS JASON NICHOLS X560 | ADVOCATE.COM

Jason Nichols
- from Glenn Dale, Md.
- pursuing an MBA at New York University Stern School of Business

How do you feel your Point Scholarship will change or help your future?
The Point Foundation will have a tremendous effect on my life. This opportunity will allow me to access educational, financial, and professional resources that would otherwise be out of reach. Being a part of an accomplished, diverse and supportive intergenerational community of LGBT individuals is an experience that few are able to share. Not only will the support that I receive and the connections that I make through The Point Foundation influence how I conduct business in the future, but it will also have a significant impact on my commitment to aid and mentor the LGBTs of future generations.

In conjunction with Point, how do you wish to make difference in the LGBT community?
With the support and guidance of The Point Foundation, I hope to make a lasting impact by helping more LGBTs enter the business arena and expand our opportunities in leadership positions. The lack of LGBT representation in business has a critical and direct bearing on the ability of the community to influence political and social outcomes. Conversely, increasing LGBT representation in leadership positions is significant because it will bring unique and important insight into the marketplace. Diversity and collaboration drive innovation and are essential to unveiling new and rewarding ideas, products and strategies that will benefit society as a whole. My goals are to encourage individuals to enter the business world and to support companies as they institute processes that make the work environment more productive and welcoming for LGBTs.
 2011 POINT SCHOLARS DAN ONEILL X560 | ADVOCATE.COM

Daniel O'Neill
- from Bloomington, Ind.
- pursuing an MD/MPH from The George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences
- George Benes M.D. and Michael Mallee EdD Point Scholarship2011 POINT SCHOLARS BRENNAN PETERS X560 | ADVOCATE.COM

Brennan Peters
- from Blytheville, Ark.
- pursuing a BA in psychology at Loyola University New Orleans
- Point Honors New York Point Scholarship

How do you feel your Point Scholarship will change or help your future?
As a single parent, money is always an issue. Frankly, it was a much stronger factor in my decision about where to go to school than I would have liked. The financial assistance from the Point Foundation has allowed me to pursue the absolute best quality of education at an institution that is the right fit for me. Additionally, coming from a fairly conservative community where many people—even some who are actively engaged in LGBT activism—aren’t fully “out,” it’s been really inspiring to meet with and learn from individuals who are open about their orientation or identity and extremely successful in their chosen career. Even just the interview process was somewhat emotional for me. Throughout my life, I’ve never been able to answer the question, “Who is your role model?” because I almost never see people like me portrayed accurately or fairly in the media. When I met the people from Point, I met role models, people with similar stories and backgrounds, who I can admire and emulate. I really felt like I was getting something that I had never really understood that I needed.

In conjunction with Point, how do you wish to make difference in the LGBT community?
I see a lot of the problems in the LGBT community as issues that really come from the outside. Homophobia, transphobia, workplace discrimination, bullying—these all stem from heterosexist norms, this assumption that the sex-gender binary and being attracted to members of the opposite sex are “normal,” and anything outside that is an anomaly or unnatural or maladaptive. Culturally, historically, biologically—being gay or lying somewhere outside our very narrow definitions of what a man or woman are “supposed” to be is perfectly healthy. There are many cultures that embrace these identities, and queerness, in its many different forms, is a biological fact that has been around since the beginning of civilization. As I move upward in education and economic status, I encounter more and more people who understand this. I believe that educating those outside the community—those who oppose equality, often because of misconceptions or plain ignorance—is critical to the creation of more accepting society. I would like to work with the Point to learn the leadership and communication skills necessary to see this goal to fruition, to take this knowledge and understanding and present it in a way that is accessible to all people.
 2011 POINT SCHOLARS SIDDARTH PURI X560 | ADVOCATE.COM

Siddarth Puri
- from Los Angeles
- pursuing an MD at the University of California, Davis School of Medicine
 
How do you feel your Point Scholarship will change or help your future?
Point Foundation will provide me with support through mentorship, sharpen my leadership abilities, and foster a space for exploration and discussion of new ideas on ways to improve LGBT healthcare. The foundation brings together a community of activists, academics and advocates that will help me to pursue my goals of increasing access to quality healthcare for LGBT patients.

In conjunction with Point, how do you wish to make difference in the LGBT community?
After completing my medical degree, I hope to work in an urban center providing quality care to the transgender community as well as advocating for HIV-positive patients. Because the LGBT community has historically been medically neglected, I aim to increase awareness of the medical issues facing the community through involvement in medical school curriculum and by encouraging open dialogue with other physicians.
 2011 POINT SCHOLARS TIM PYLES X560 | ADVOCATE.COM

Timothy Pyles
- from Houston
- pursuing a BA in biomedical engineering at the University of Houston

2011 POINT SCHOLARS JORDAN SIMONSON X560 | ADVOCATE.COM

Jordan Simonson
- from Abbotsford, Wisc.
- pursuing a PhD in psychology at Seattle Pacific University
- University of Phoenix Point Scholarship

How do you feel your Point Scholarship will change or help your future?
The Point Foundation scholarship will help me fund my current research project, Youth PREVAIL (Project of Experiences and Vulnerabilities Affecting Individuals’ Lives), which will be the first study to test an integrated model of stress and vulnerability in predicting anxiety and depressive symptoms in LGBTQ youth.  It is my goal that Youth PREVAIL will help us identify specific pathways to symptoms over time.  This will allow for the development of targeted interventions to ensure that LGBQ youth can, in fact, prevail.

Point Foundation, with the leadership training and mentoring they provide, will help me be a better advocate for LGBTQ youth in my community.  I often feel frustrated with my limited power to enact change within campus groups and community organizations.  I believe that Point will give me the necessary skills to be more successful in my efforts for sexual minority youth.  By connecting me to resources and individuals that can provide guidance and support, Point will enable me to be a successful advocate, both presently and in the future.

In conjunction with Point, how do you wish to make difference in the LGBT community?
As a graduate student in clinical psychology, I am intimately aware of the mental health issues with our community.  On average, sexual minorities have elevated rates of anxiety, depression, substance use, and suicidal tendencies compared to our heterosexual peers.  While I believe that documenting and attempting to understand this mental health disparity is important, I think we also need to identify and appreciate the strengths that we have as a community.  Part of my goal for the future is developing a method for the measurement of sexual-minority-specific strengths LGBTQ individuals have, so that we can determine what areas need to be bolstered to promote well being.  I therefore hope to play a role in shifting our attention from mental illness, to the strength-based mental wellness.  I believe this is an important shift we need to make in our community if we want to talk about ensuring the success of the next generation of LGBTQ persons, rather than simply reducing negative outcomes.
 2011 POINT SCHOLARS RACHEL SMITH X560 | ADVOCATE.COM

Rachael Smith
- from Berwick, Maine
- pursuing a BA in sociology and gender studies at Mount Holyoke College
- HBO Point Scholarship

How do you feel your Point Scholarship will change or help your future?
In addition to providing me with financial support for my post-secondary education, my Point Scholarship will give me the leadership training and my very own mentor to ensure that I am able to reach my full potential. As a bisexual youth, Point will certainly provide a solid support system for my future as a civil rights attorney specializing in LGBT cases.

In conjunction with Point, how do you wish to make difference in the LGBT community?
I plan to become a civil rights attorney specializing in LGBT cases. In addition, anti-bullying is a cause I feel strongly about. As a project in high school, I planned and coordinated an anti-bullying event. I hope to plan and implement more of these events in high schools across America to combat bullying and provide LGBT youth with a positive, confident role model. Maybe someday, I'll even work for an organization like Point!2011 POINT SCHOLARS CARL STREED X560 | ADVOCATE.COM

Carl Streed, Jr.
- from Zion, Ill.
- pursuing an MD at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
- Erickson-Zoellers Point Scholarship

How do you feel your Point Scholarship will change or help your future?
The Point Foundation will help relieve the financial burden of medical school that so often pushes students into specialties rather than health fields that can better serve our community (e.g. community health, public health, primary care). Additionally, and more importantly, the mentorship and leadership training opportunities provided by the Point Foundation will provide me with the skills and mentors I will need to have an impact on a larger scale; I believe we must learn from our past and present leaders, to stand on the shoulders of giants, to move our community forward.

In conjunction with Point, how do you wish to make difference in the LGBT community?
With the Point Foundation, I want to create a network of students in the health professions that can mobilize quickly to address policy issues (local and national) while remaining uniquely autonomous to serve local communities effectively. I've already begun discussing a regional model with colleagues, and I believe the Point Foundation will make it possible to scale these efforts, to effect change on a grander scale.2011 POINT SCHOLARS ERIKA TURNER X560 | ADVOCATE.COM

Erika Turner
- from Las Vegas
- pursuing a BA in East Asian studies at Wellesley College2011 POINT SCHOLARS KYLE VEY X560 | ADVOCATE.COM

Kyle Vey
- from Raleigh, N.C.
- pursuing a BA in biomedical engineering at North Carolina State University

How do you feel your Point Scholarship will change or help your future?
The Point Scholarship will affect my future in so many ways. Not only will it provide financial support as I enter college, but it provides another means of support from the LGBT community as well as a lifelong connection to this incredible organization. After the finalist weekend in San Francisco I knew I wanted to be involved with Point Foundation whether I got the scholarship or not. I am very grateful I get this opportunity.

In conjunction with Point, how do you wish to make difference in the LGBT community?
I remember how I felt before I had come out; it was a mixture of a lot of loneliness, hopelessness, and worthlessness. I don’t want LGBT youth to feel like that way anymore. Whether it is providing support groups or spreading knowledge to the community, I believe my main goal would be to prevent as many adolescents from feeling the way I did before came out.2011 POINT SCHOLARS EMMA WANG X560 | ADVOCATE.COM

Emma Qing Wang
- from Amherst, Mass.
- pursuing a BA in social sciences at Harvard College

How do you feel your Point Scholarship will change or help your future?
The Point Scholarship has already changed my past and present. By making more visible mentors and leaders in the LGBTQ and allied community, I have been inspired to engage in LGBTQ-related activism and efforts knowing that I am not alone in these endeavors. In the immediate to long-term, I see the Point Scholarship as bringing me in touch with inspiring and strong individuals who have unique stories and shared experiences; being part of a queer and allied community confers immense strength and efficacy to any project. Moreover, I will be able to engage in discussions on LGBTQ issues at Point Foundation conferences in ways I hadn’t imagined previously, and challenge my current views of social justice to make my future advocacy work all the more self-aware. I hope, too, that the Point Scholarship will change my future allowing me to help shape others future, because mentorship and community is not unidirectional, and I believe that if others reach out to me, from seeing my bio on the Point website or anywhere else, I will also lead a more fulfilled life.

In conjunction with Point, how do you wish to make difference in the LGBT community?
With the other Point Scholars, alums, mentors, and all others involved in the community of the Point Foundation, I hope to reach across divisions through the shared understanding of being supporters and members of the LGBTQ community. I understand that being, for example, an 1.5 generation immigrant from China (my parents are first generation, and I was born in China, but I moved to the United States when I was in preschool), female-identified, and queer individual who attends Harvard College, I have certain experiences and perspectives that are transmutable to others, and certain others that are not as relatable. The uniqueness of an individual experience, however, cannot be discounted or too readily subsumed under other larger, more entrenched identities or agendas. To do so would result in a real loss to the diversity of our community, and reflect a misunderstanding of the extent to which prejudice is intersecting and interwoven. Therefore, I intend to bring forth recognition of traditionally marginalized groups within our community, namely, the female-identified LGBTQ community, the non-gender conforming community, the LGBTQ community of color, and the LGBTQ immigrant community. I would raise the question of intersectionality in whatever advocacy work I do in the future, while all the while continuing to learn from, and being actively supporting of others visions of a more socially just world.
2011 POINT SCHOLARS KIP WILLIAMS X560 | ADVOCATE.COM

Kip Williams
- from Knoxville, Tenn.
- pursuing an MA in counseling psychology at California Institute of Integral Studies
- Point Honors Los Angeles Point Scholarship

How do you feel your Point Scholarship will change or help your future?
Like too many young folks in this country, I'm still working off debt from my previous education. Knowing that earning my MA would more than triple my debt dampened some of my excitement about my studies. Support from Point Foundation will dramatically reduce my overall debt and plug me into a community of service and mentorship, and that makes my future look a whole lot brighter. When I finish my degree, I won't have to work for some agency that doesn't care about me or the people it serves just to make ends meet; instead, I'll invest my labor in social entrepreneurship and projects I believe in, along with the support of this creative community.

In conjunction with Point, how do you wish to make difference in the LGBT community?
In my experience working toward LGBTQ equality at both the nonprofit and the grassroots level, the greatest challenge to our progress is figuring out how to support each other and work together across our differences. I want to dig in and be part of the solution, so I'm back in school to be a therapist. Counseling and community organizing are very similar kinds of work, and my intent is the same in both - to empower myself and others to greater confidence, to rise up against shame, and to take direct action on the circumstances in our lives that hold us down. My training as a therapist will make me a better organizer and group facilitator as well. In conjunction with Point, I hope to continue opening space for new ideas and leadership in the movement for equality, to provide more emotional support for young queer folks facing homophobia in their families and communities, and to support young social entrepreneurs to sustain their motivation and passion through the challenges of implementing new ideas.
 Sarah Young
- from McGraw, N.Y.
- pursuing a PhD in social work/social services at the University of Alabama

How do you feel your Point Scholarship will change or help your future?
The Point Scholarship will allow me to devote increasing care and time to my studies, and will enable me to balance my work, school, and personal life.  Without Point, I likely would be working two jobs and commuting to school, all while taking a full PhD course load.  I anticipate that the connections I make with others in the Point family can help me offer necessary resources to Mississippi LGBTQ youth.

In conjunction with Point, how do you wish to make difference in the LGBT community?
I hope to continue my work with the LGBTQA youth in Mississippi and in the Deep South.  My goal is to be an ambassador for Point, showing youth that there is a large and supportive queer community that invests in the leadership and education of queer and ally people across this country.