Meet This Year's Inspiring Point Foundation Scholars
BY Sunnivie Brydum
June 20 2014 6:30 AM ET
Every year, the Point Foundation awards a collection of deserving LGBT students in college and graduate school scholarships to continue their education and enable them to give back to the communities from which they came.
This year's class of Point Scholars includes 23 students who will be able to pursue higher education thanks to Point's support. Combined with those who received multi-year scholarships awarded in previous years, Point is now supporting 80 full-time students, making it the largest LGBT scholarship organization in the country.
"Helping hardworking and bright students afford the increasing cost of a college education is an investment in a better future for everyone," said Jorge Valencia, executive director and CEO of Point Foundation. "Embracing diversity in education — particularly empowering LGBTQ students — is necessary for building a more equitable and innovative society."
As always, this year's Point Scholars represent a diverse cross-section of the LGBT community. More than one-third of the new scholars are from the Southern U.S., while 17 percent are from Mountain States, marking a notable increase in scholars from these regions in previous years. While 48 percent of this year's new scholars are people of color, 22 percent of the scholars identify as transgender, and 13 percent identify as gender-nonconforming. Thirty percent of this year's scholarship class are the first in their family to go to college.
While the particular experiences that qualify each individual to be named a Point Scholar vary, all of them share an unyielding desire to serve, empower, and better the LGBT community. And with their unbridled passion and the newly announced support from Point, these individuals are all but certain to become the next generation of LGBT leaders, inspiring others and serving as living, breathing proof that it really does get better.
All of the Point Scholars have demonstrated academic excellence and leadership within their communities, despite facing harsh discrimination, rejection, and homophobia from those communities, and sometimes even from their own families. Every Point Scholar is paired with a professional mentor and receives training to further cultivate their leadership skills.
In late July, current Point Scholars will gather in Boston, along with many Point Alumni, for the Foundation's Annual Scholar and Alumni Leadership Conference, focusing on honing their advocacy skills and planning their future careers. In addition to special film screenings and a walking tour of the historic town, this year's scholars and alumni will be joined by New York Times-bestselling author Janet Mock, and NBA center Jason Collins, who recently became the first openly gay man to play professional basketball when he signed with the Brooklyn Nets.
Learn more about each of the scholars on the following pages, and get to know them better with brief introductory videos collected here.