Meet the 2011 Point Scholars

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 Louisiana

2011 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. 

Pages

Latest videos on Advocate

READER COMMENTS ()