Meet the 2011 Point Scholars




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.