Every year, the nonprofit Point Foundation announces its new class of scholars; the impressive, aspiring LGBTQ leaders of today and the future. Point helps pay for the education of these students, people who include every age, race, home country, gender, and gender identity of our wonderfully vibrant community.
For 2020, Point is announcing its largest class ever. There are 19 new Point Scholars — out of 2,300 applicants! — and 36 recipients of Point's Community College Scholarship Program. Another 44 students will receive $1,000 grant awards, of which 28 are Toyota Scholarships. Many of these students have backgrounds in LGBTQ advocacy and social justice, while some are brilliant artists or scientists; some have also had to support themselves because of intolerance they faced from their families or communities.
"In this unprecedented time – with COVID-19 still impacting students across the country and with millions of people rising up to address the centuries-old plague of racism – Point is more proud than ever to support LGBTQ students who have demonstrated that they have the potential to be the visionary leaders we need," said Jorge Valencia, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of Point Foundation.
In addition to announcing the largest scholar class in the history of the organization, Point also announced that they will be creating a new scholarship fund specifically for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) who are LGBTQ.
“Since our inception, Point Foundation has funded a diverse class of scholars every year. In recent years we’ve added Community College Scholarships and, this year, individual one-year grant awards. We know we can do more broaden our support of students who are Black, Indigenous and People of Color and so we are pleased to announce the Point Foundation BIPOC LGBTQ Scholarship Fund. Details are forthcoming, but we are excited to continue deepening our commitment to making higher education more accessible to all,” Valencia added.
Find out more about Point's scholars and how to get involved with the organization here.
Attending Dartmouth College
Studying Government and History
Having grown up regularly attending church in her small, conservative California suburb, Jessica struggled to reconcile her faith with her sexual orientation. After several years of grappling with her identity, she found strength in her school’s GSA and moved from a place of shame, to pride – making it her life’s goal to help others live their own truth. As a quadruplet with 3 brothers and a proud mixed-race Latina, Chiriboga took on leadership roles with GLSEN National Student Council and her school’s Gender-Sexuality Alliance. She also served as president and founder of a local club dedicated to destigmatizing mental illness, and served as Editor-in-Chief of her yearbook. She will begin Freshman year at Dartmouth College this fall.
Attending University of Southern California
Studying Criminal Justice
Since he was 15, Alan has lobbied public officials from the Nevada State Legislature (where he also introduced his own bill) on LGBTQ+, racial justice, and immigration issues amongst others. Living as first-generation, disabled, queer, and Indigenous (Zapotec Oaxacan, Mexico) person, Cruz has a passion for uplifting marginalized communities through law, policy, and social justice. Alan looks forward to a future as an attorney and eventually as an elected official in his home state. There, he plans to continue taking an active role in creating a world that is safe and equitable for all.
Attending Portland State University
Studying Computer Science
Madison Klementyn is a genderqueer woman residing in Portland Oregon, and a self-described, “serious geek” with an indomitable thirst for technology and art. In 2018 Madison organized a Transgender Day of Remembrance event for her school and community and in 2019 was selected for a Point Foundation Community College Scholarship. She volunteers with her University to organize the annual Queer Students of Color Conference and as a pro bono Notary Public, assisting students and her community with gender change documentation, advanced directives, and court document preparation. In her free time, Madison moonlights as an aspiring Roller Derby Jammer - go Rose City Rollers!
Attending Harvard University
Studying Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology
Enrolling at Harvard in 2017, Rick studies regenerative biology and health policy with a specific interest in blood diseases. At Boston Children’s Hospital, he conducts research on hematopoietic development at the vanguard of CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technologies. As the child of Chinese-American immigrants raised in the Midwest, Rick’s academic and professional interests grew out of a developing understanding of how race, queerness, and local moral worlds co-create his life and a deep frustration at persistent barriers to care in the world today. Rick hopes to become a physician-scientist and community advocate, imaginatively and collaboratively reshaping our landscape of care. In all he does, he lets love and determined action serve as his guides.
Attending New York University
Coming from the border city of Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, Diego has a passion for science and community service. As a student at the University of Monterrey in Mexico, he served as vice-president of a sexual and reproductive health group and volunteered at a United Nations refugee settlement in Zambia, where he co-coordinated an HIV prevention campaign. He transferred to New York University in the fall of 2019 to continue his studies. In the future, Diego aims to become a physician to advocate for LGBTQ+ inclusion in the medical field.
Attending Clemson University
Studying English and History
Receiving the Alfred A. Cave Scholarship
Born and raised in Greenville, SC, it was not until he began college at Clemson University that Tyler found a supportive, queer community to belong to. He immediately began to engage with his community, working to supply holiday food to LGBTQ+ students that would not be welcomed home. Passionate about creating a more inclusive and supportive university, he founded and currently serves as president of Clemson Rainbow Fellowship, South Carolina's only LGBTQ+ collegiate mentorship program, in addition to serving as the Inclusion and Equity Chair in undergraduate senate. After graduation, Tyler hopes to attend law school with a focus on public service. He hopes to use his education and privileges to better the station of LGBTQ+ individuals that find themselves without.
Attending Swarthmore College
Darid is a proud first-generation Cambodian queer immigrant who has centered much of their work around the inclusion and visibility of queer immigrants of color. They have served as a national student leader on the GLSEN's National Student Council, as well as a youth organizer with local LGBTQ+ non-profits in Philadelphia, working to ensure the safety and wellbeing of LGBTQ youth in schools locally and nationally. In the future, Darid wants to pursue a career in healthcare public policy and work to establish a more inclusive healthcare system. Darid will begin their Freshman year at Swarthmore College this fall.
Attending University of South Florida
Studying Environmental Science & Policy
Abigail Reed’s passion for environmental science and leadership shares a parallel path with her LGBTQ+ activism. After being outed her freshman year, Abigail became a founding member of her high school's Gender Sexuality Alliance and has served as the group’s President during her Junior and senior year of high school. While serving in this leadership position, she created and led a LGBTQ+ sex education program to meet the needs of LGBTQ+ students who otherwise only have access to abstinence-focused and heteronormative sex education. As an environmentalist, she has conducted multiple water quality projects at beaches stretching from Sanibel Island to Bonita Beach in Southwest Florida. She will begin school at the University of South Florida this fall and hopes to pursue a career in environmental law while continuing to advocate for inclusive education in conservative states.
Attending Harvard University
Studying Arts and Humanities
Attending Harvard University Studying Arts and Humanities Student activist Elle Smith (they/them) is a black, queer, non-binary student who is dedicating their life to generating positive social change. With the hope of increasing the impact of GSAs in the Austin (TX) area, Elle founded a non-profit, the Central Texas GSA Coalition in January of 2019. Since then, the Coalition has attracted over 100 members from more than 20 schools. In recognition of their advocacy, Elle was GLSEN’s 2019-2020 Student Advocate of the Year. When they are not advocating for the dismantling of oppressive systems, you can find them reading philosophy, playing classical guitar, taking pictures for Instagram, or sewing clothes.
Attending Yale University
Studying African-American Studies and History
Receiving the Steven Esposito Memorial Scholarship
Joshua Aiken is a black queer poet who considers St. Louis, Missouri home. Joshua grew up in six different states, in overwhelmingly white, conservative, evangelical Christian communities, and hypermasculine spaces, as the son of a college football coach. His early experiences of anti-blackness and homophobia have shaped his approach to social justice and collective liberation today. Joshua received his B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis summa cum laude before earning Master’s degrees in History and Forced Migration Studies from the University of Oxford. He then spent a year as the Policy Fellow at the Prison Policy Initiative, where he published research on America’s system of mass criminalization and its disproportionate impact on the LGBTQ community and communities of color. As a J.D./Ph.D. student at Yale University, Joshua is studying the relationship between racial capitalism and the criminal legal system and is committed to getting people out from behind bars.
Attending Simmons College
Studying Social Work
Receiving the Stacey R. Friedman Scholarship
As a transgender youth of color who spent most of her childhood in foster care, Nia Clark has channeled her experience spending nearly fifteen years changing the system from within as a child welfare consultant, direct care counselor, trainer, and LGBTQ+ youth advocate. Not only has Nia served with social work organizations and programs at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, HRC and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, but Nia has also served as consulting producer of the Emmy-nominated MTV documentary, Transformation, a film featuring herself and six trans & gender-diverse youth. A graduate from California State University, Los Angeles, Nia is currently enrolled in an MSW program at Simmons University in Boston, Massachusetts.
Attending Stanford School of Medicine
A first-generation college student and immigrant from Kavadarci, Macedonia, Marija struggled in her youth with navigating her seemingly contradicting identities. Becoming involved with the queer community as an undergraduate at Yale through various leadership roles sparked her passion for LGBTQ+ advocacy in health in medicine. Entering Stanford Medicine in 2017, Marija continued to be involved in the LGBTQ+ community having co-founded the Medical Student Pride Alliance, the first national LGBTQ+ medical student association. Marija is dedicated to continuing the work of community-building and addressing health inequity in her career.
Attending Stanford University School of Medicine
Tim Keyes is an MD/PhD student at Stanford University and an aspiring clinical informatician, data scientist, and organizational diversity and inclusion strategist. As a scientist, Tim studies how machine learning and computational modeling can be applied to single-cell data analysis in pediatric leukemia. As an advocate, they are primarily focused on strengthening the queer and trans physician workforce pipeline and facilitating organizational change towards inclusive and equitable practices in medical education. A recipient of a number of medical awards and honors including a Junior Leadership Award from the Building the Next Generation of Academic Physicians (BNGAP) LGBT Workforce, Tim is also a co-Founder and Executive Board member of the Medical Student Pride Alliance (MSPA), advocating for LGBTQ+-identifying medical students.
Attending Louisiana State University
Studying Public Health
Inspired to go to medical school after witnessing the health and resource disparities that resulted from Hurricane Katrina, Mirandy Li is a graduate of Emory University where she studied biology and global health. After graduating from Emory, Mirandy went on to earn her MD/PhD at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center where she was the only queer woman of color in her class. Having served in multiple leadership roles at LSUHSC and receiving the Women in Medicine Leadership Award in 2018, Mirandy decided to pursue her PhD in public health, where she could research health disparities that marginalize vulnerable populations. After graduating with her MD/PhD, she plans to continue her health disparities research, while also being an abortion provider.
Attending Stanford University
Receiving the NBC Universal Scholarship
Throughout his adolescence, Kevin grappled with the various pieces of his identity that made him “different,” namely his ethnic identity, his socioeconomic background, and his sexual orientation. He studied economics at Harvard and was the first in his family to graduate from college. Kevin continued to struggle with his sexuality after graduation, and it wasn’t until he joined Boston Consulting Group (BCG) that he found a robust LGBTQ community that helped him embrace his identity. He went on to lead the Pride@BCG network in his local office and invested his time in supporting minority communities outside of work. Kevin is now headed to the Stanford Graduate School of Business to explore a career in entrepreneurship. He is excited to seek out opportunities to effect positive change through innovation, and aims to center his work on the themes of inclusivity and celebrating diversity.
Attending Harvard Law School
A Muslim American and a second-generation Bengali Immigrant, Irfan Mahmud is passionate about countering discrimination which has brought him to the study of law. At Harvard College, Irfan was committed to diversity and inclusion and public service. In his professional environments after college, he also brought his LGBTQIA+ advocacy, helping to found the first ever conference of queer global leaders. Now a student at Harvard Law School, Irfan is training himself to be an advocate for vulnerable communities and learning civil rights law and policy and hopes to advocate for vulnerable and underrepresented communities in the political process.
Attending University of California Riverside School of Medicine
After first-hand experience witnessing how healthcare disparities disenfranchise minority and underserved populations, Kishan Patel became inspired to care for the underserved immigrant and LGBTQ+ populations of Southern California by becoming a physician and changing how these communities experience the healthcare system. Having attended University of California Riverside School of Medicine and serving in multiple leadership roles in advocating for LGBTQ+ communities in healthcare, Kishan has served as a leader through education and activism. Kishan will be pursuing a residency in Emergency Medicine to provide quality care to the most underserved, vulnerable members of his community and will continue to be a fearless advocate committed to bridging healthcare disparities.
Attending University of California, Los Angeles
Studying Social Work
Receiving the Minton Spidell Jackowski Scholarship
Vanessa Warri is a Nigerian-American community-based researcher, strategist, and advocate, committed to the liberation, empowerment, and safety of Black transgender women and all communities existing at the various intersections of oppression. Vanessa’s activism has taken the form of direct services and peer education for transgender communities, LGBTQ+ youth and the incarcerated. Vanessa has served as a leader in multiple positions including having served as a mayoral appointee on the San Francisco Youth Commission. Vanessa plans to continue to queer and transgender youth of color in their educational attainments by creating initiatives that center their experiential expertise in research about them, engaging in educational literacy, professional development initiatives, and the creation of sustainable paths towards higher education and gainful employment.
Attending Washington University in St. Louis
Studying Political Science
Receiving the Barbey Family Scholarship
As the gay, Asian son of immigrants, Ranen grew up with an acute understanding that representation and policy had the power to transform lives. His identity taught him the importance of uplifting marginalized voices through politics to promote equity and justice. In high school, Ranen represented the United States on the national debate team. His time in debate deepened his understanding of domestic and international policy issues and reaffirmed his passion for public service. Ranen enrolled at Washington University in St. Louis in 2019, where he was elected class president on a platform of student advocacy and service. In March of 2020, he was elected student body president with a focus on increasing equity and representation. After graduation, Ranen plans to pursue a career in public service.
Nicolas Arce; Miami Dade College, Sociology. Receiving the Donald Cummins Scholarship
Dafne Arellano Villegas: San Diego City College, Ethnic Studies. Receiving the Wells Fargo Scholarship
Dannie Barbour: SUNY Orange Community College, Visual Communications. Receiving the John Hancock Scholarship
Jolina Barron: Northland Pioneer College, Associates of Arts
Nancy Berger: Roxbury Community College, Biotechnology and Biological Services
Austin Boozer: Northeast State Community College, English. Receiving the Wells Fargo Scholarship
Hilary Cruz: Skyline College, Spanish Language and Literature
Joshua Elizondo: Santa Monica College, World Diplomacy & Affairs. Receiving the Bryan Fitzgerald Scholarship
Manuel Faria: Miami Dade College, Biology. Receiving the Miami Beach Pride Scholarship
Pilar Garcia: Columbia State Community College, English
Jorge Hernandez: Miami Dade College, Nuclear Medicine. Receiving the Broward LEADS Scholarship
Inji Jaber: San Diego City College, Art
Layla Kimbles: Riverside City College, Psychology. Receiving the Wells Fargo Scholarship
Stephanie King: Diablo Valley College, Nursing. Receiving the John S. Knudsen Scholarship
Amy Lopez: San Diego City College, Fine Arts. Receiving the Wells Fargo Scholarship
Ash López: Santa Monica College, Biological Sciences
Travis Martz: West Los Angeles College, Political Science and Business. Receiving the LA Dodgers Scholarship
Anthony Adero Olweny: University of the District of Columbia Community College, Liberal Studies
Khristian Paris: Brookdale Community College, Liberal Arts
Raelynn Requena: Cypress College, Psychology. Receiving the Wells Fargo Scholarship
Waverly Rocklin: San Diego City College, Nursing
Lakona Rodrigues: Windward Community College, Natural Science. Receiving the Wells Fargo Scholarship
Randy Rodriguez: Cypress Community College, Anthropology
Shukri Sheick: Miami Dade College, Nursing. Receiving the Broward Leads Scholarship
Gill Sullivan: Austin Community College, Computer Science. Receiving the Toyota Scholarship
Alberto Williams: Wilbur Wright College, General Studies. Receiving the Wendell Reid Scholarship
Tristan Callahan: Cuyahoga Community College, Physical Therapy
Madison Chaparro: Saddleback College, Film
Tatiana Claure: Santa Monica College, Environmental Engineering
Shiri Davy: Glendale Community College, Economics
Felix Giglio: Central New Mexico Community College, Nursing
Ava Owens: Oregon Coast Community College, Aquarium Science Program
Melissa Santiago: Miami Dade College, Biotechnology
Star Udenze: Riverside City College, Nursing
Angelique Walker: Skyline Community College, Automotive Technology
Skyler Weinberg: Chemeketa Community College, Associate of Arts