Point Foundation, the nation's most prominent scholarship-granting organization for LGBTQ students, has announced its 2017 scholarship recipients, and it’s by far the largest and most diverse group in the organization’s history.
From more than 2,000 applicants, 52 recipients were chosen — 27 LGBTQ students were chosen to be Point Scholars, while 25 LGBTQ students were chosen from community colleges to expand Point’s Community College Scholarship Program. This year’s scholarship recipients include veterans of the armed forces, award-winning artists, international LGBTQ rights activists, creators of nonprofit organizations, and young scientists.
Two-thirds of Point Scholar class are people of color, nearly half of them identify as transgender, gender-nonconforming, or intersex, and eight were formerly homeless. In the group of community college recipients, 60 percent of the students are the first in their families to go to college, nearly half of them identify as transgender, gender-nonconforming, or intersex, and one-third identify as bisexual, polysexual, or queer.
Here’s to a great school year ahead!
Learn more about the Point Foundation at PointFoundation.org.
Carnegie Mellon University, Theater
Pronouns = He/Him/His
Born in Karachi, Pakistan, and raised in the Chicago area, Adil Mansoor is a Muslim-raised and queer-identified theater director. What began as bullying in high school and ostracism from his community evolved into a commitment to marginalized folks and dismantling structural oppression. As a director, Adil believes that centering the stories of LGBTQA+ people and folks of color will shift the dominant narrative away from heteronormativity and white supremacy. Adil began his journey as an artist educator at Northwestern University, receiving his bachelor’s degree in 2008. After graduating, he has worked with many organizations including Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, Chicago/Pittsburgh Public Schools, and the Andy Warhol Museum. Since 2012, Adil has been the program director for Dreams of Hope, an arts education organization supporting LGBTQA+ youth. Each year, he works with a youth ensemble to create an original play exploring LGBTQA+ history and experience. In 2013, he started Dreams of Hope's sQool program, bringing social justice centered arts programming to schools and community spaces. In its first three years, sQool engaged over 3,000 people in art making and conversations about the LGBTQA+ community. Adil is also a founding member of Hatch Arts Collective, a performance group committed to creating socially engaged art. In addition, he has directed for Quantum Theatre, Bricolage Production Company, Pittsburgh Playwrights, and others. Adil is pursuing an MFA in directing at Carnegie Mellon University as a John Wells Fellow and will further develop his capacity to honor underrepresented voices.
Wells Fargo Point Scholar
Yale University — Ethics, Politics, and Economics
Pronouns = He/Him/His
Bodo Lee was born in Dallas and moving to Oro Valley, Ariz., in fifth grade. There, he has attended a charter school for grades 6-12 where he found a community that became a second family to him. Although his high school career involved a liberal arts education with an emphasis on STEM fields, he found a passion for economics and politics primarily during his junior and senior years. At school, Bodo served as treasurer of the National Honor Society, and he founded Peer Diversity, a group that works with the Anti-Defamation League to train student leaders to identify and combat discrimination, hate, and bias. This experience gave him an outlet to challenge injustices of all kinds including the prejudice often facing the LGBTQ community. Outside of his high school studies, he served on his town’s Youth Advisory Council before becoming president in 2016. Along with this, Bodo was a board mrmbrt the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation, an organization dedicated to providing care and education for those living with HIV or AIDS as well as the LGBTQ community. It was these two organizations that ignited in Bodo a passion for politics and advocacy. Bodo is a student at Yale University, where he plans to study ethics, politics, and economics while continuing to be an advocate for equality and justice.
University of Michigan Law School
Pronouns = She/Her/Hers
Donna Scaffidi has committed her life to serving and supporting marginalized communities. A first-generation college graduate who overcame poverty, Donna graduated magna cum laude with a BA from the University of Massachusetts, Boston, where she was actively involved with several organizations to cultivate positive social change for black, Latinx, and LGBTQA+ communities. Due to her civic engagement and desire to pursue a career in law, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute selected Donna to join the Congressional Internship Program in the spring of 2015. Through this opportunity, Donna worked for U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), focusing on technology, health care, education, poverty, and LGBTQA+ policy issues. This experience fortified Donna’s desire to become a lawyer and led her to explore the intersection of public interest/government and private practice. After graduating college, Donna began working in the legal recruiting department of a preeminent global law firm where she served as an LGBTQA+ leader and advocate. Then, prior to law school, Donna was selected to be an SEO Law Fellow, and she worked during the summer before law school at another leading international law firm. She has been working to create and sustain a pipeline of diverse talent for those interested in pursuing a legal career. One of Donna’s goals after law school is to return to a law firm to continue these efforts, combining her passion for creating justice for all with her desire to work on sophisticated legal issues.
George Mason University — History
Pronouns = He/Him/His
Despite proud Texan parents, Eric Gonzaba is thoroughly Midwestern. Born in Missouri and raised in Michigan, Eric attended high school in rural southern Indiana, where he came out as gay sophomore year. Backed by supportive family and friends, he became deeply involved in LGBTQ advocacy. At Indiana University, he served as outreach coordinator for the school’s LGBTQ+ Culture Center and the GLBT Alumni Association, tasked with organizing programming and educational events for the wider university community on queer issues. While organizing an event on the history of LGBTQ Hoosiers, Eric became interested in uncovering and telling the histories of queer people outside the coastal gay landmarks of San Francisco and New York. He curated an exhibit on Indiana’s LGBTQ history using only T-shirts archived in a local gay library. Later, as a graduate student at George Mason University, Eric developed the T-shirt project into a digital archive and museum titled Wearing Gay History. The site contains nearly 4,000 historical LGBTQ T-shirts from around the world, spanning five decades of vibrant history. The site earned a 2016 National Council on Public History Award. Eric’s research focuses on the cultural politics of the late twentieth century United States, with a particular interest in African American and queer history. His dissertation, titled "Because the Night: Nightlife and Remaking the Gay Male World, 1970-1990" examines the politics of racial discrimination at gay nightlife establishments in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and Philadelphia. Eric’s dissertation argues that sites of gay nightlife divided queer communities along racial, sexual, and class lines. Eric hopes his career as a historian will help empower others to uncover the complicated and often overlooked histories of LGBTQ people.