This Point Foundation — the national nonprofit that mentors and awards scholarships to deserving LGBTQ+ youth — recently announced it broke its own record for the most students they will support in the forthcoming academic year. Overall, Point plans to award 539 scholarships and grants in the 2022-23 academic year ahead (up from 320 last year). Of this group, there are 42 new Point Flagship Scholars, the four-year college and graduate school scholarship program, 80 new students in the Community College Scholarship Program, 106 BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) Scholarship students, and another 101 students will receive short-term Opportunity Grants. Point is planning to grant an additional 274 scolarships to BIPOC students next year.
Point also recently announced a $1 million commitment to fight oppression by supporting students going into fields like law, political science, filmmaking, arts, education, and journalism. Point hopes these future leaders will advance LGBTQ+ rights and fight against the torrent of anti-LGBTQ+ efforts.
“While we were able to select more students than ever to receive essential support in higher ed, we also saw record-breaking need,” Margaux Cowden, Chief Program Officer at Point, said in a statement. “I’m so grateful for what we’re able to accomplish in terms of student support, thanks to donor generosity. But it’s clear we have even more opportunity to grow and help more LGBTQ students access and succeed in college.”
Donors to the Point scholars include Ascential Corp, CBRE, Coach Foundation Dream it Real, The Coca-Cola Foundation, Creative Artists Agency, Ernst & Young, FedEx, JCPenney, Lands’ End, MacKenzie Scott, PGIM, Parametric, Synchrony Bank, Toyota, Victoria’s Secret & Company, Wells Fargo, and more.
Scroll down to meet the crew. All photos Courtesy The Point Foundation.
Ava Aimable was born and raised in Queens in New York City. After coming out, Ava served as a mentor to fellow LGBTQ+ students to make them feel included in a Christian school. Furthermore, Ava is a founding member of her school’s first-ever Student Diversity and Inclusion Council, in which she brings forth and resolves issues with administration. Outside of the classroom, Ava expands her passion for mental health through volunteering at summer camps devoted to those with physical/mental disabilities. She has additionally worked with a nonprofit, LuvMichael, as a social media advocate for people with autism. In her free time, Ava likes to connect to her Caribbean heritage with stilt-walking lessons as both a performer and a leader to the next generation. In the Fall of 2022, Ava will continue her studies at Columbia University to fulfill her dream of becoming a clinical psychologist to counsel LGBTQ+/POC individuals like herself.
Arizona State University
A child of Bosnian and Iraqi war refugees and a first-generation college student at Arizona State University in Barrett, the Honors College, Sami embraces his diverse academic and multicultural background in his contributions to public service. Raised in Glendale, Arizona, Sami studies political science. Sami's writing has appeared in The State Press blog and the Arizona Capitol Times, and he has been featured in the Glendale Star, Freethought Today, KQED Forum, OnlySky, and the Arizona Republic. He is a former intern of Congressman Ruben Gallego and a selectee of the highly competitive Cox-State Department Diplomacy Seminar. Currently, he sits on the board of Secular AZ, protecting the constitutional separation of church and state in Arizona public policy through substantive advocacy work. Sami is eager to continue making meaningful contributions by pursuing a graduate degree in public policy.
Xavier was raised in Raleigh, North Carolina. In high school, Xavier served as the Student Body Treasurer and President of his school's Gender and Sexuality Alliance where he worked in philanthropy and LGBTQ+ student inclusion. Xavier is now studying English and Computer Science at Columbia University, where he will be a sophomore in the Fall of 2022. While there, Xavier hopes to continue to engage with the school's Chicanx Caucus, where he serves as Gender & Sexuality Chair to host workshops on queer Chicanx culture. After college, Xavier plans to work and travel.
University of Maryland
Lorae V. Bonamy-Lohve was born and raised in southeastern Pennsylvania and attended private Christian elementary schools and predominately white public middle and high schools. This context informed her decision to attend Temple University, which at the time referred to itself as “Diversity University,” in order to join a community of scholars from various backgrounds. During college, Lorae was very active in the gospel choir and other Christian student organizations, wherein it was emotionally and psychologically unsafe to come out as a queer person. In order to positively impact the lives of other students like her, Lorae chose to pursue a master's degree in Higher Education Counseling from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. It was there that she gained the tools and knowledge to begin reconciling her religious identity with her sexual identity. In the Fall of 2022, Lorae will be a third-year doctoral student at the University of Maryland studying Higher Education, Student Affairs, and International Education Policy. She plans to continue building her research agenda around racialized religious oppression, racialized heterosexism, and inclusive campus environments. Upon completion of the program, Lorae hopes to work as a student affairs professor or practitioner at the intersection of faith and sexuality, increasing the number of LGBTQIA+ affirming religious organizations on college campuses.
University of Chicago
Lukas Borja was raised in Mount Pleasant, a historic neighborhood in Washington, DC. During their time in high school, they volunteered with various groups fighting for housing justice and more equitable cities. They will be studying Urban Studies at the University of Chicago while continuing to advocate for issues relating to urban justice. After college, they intend to return to DC and continue to fight for the issues that have defined so much of their life.
Chase Breaux was raised in Houston, Texas. He is majoring in Political Science with a minor in Black Studies. At Wabash, Breaux serves in various positions—such as Co-President of ‘shOUT, Alumni Committee Chairman for the Malcolm X Institute of Black Studies, Co-Chair for the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Democracy Fellow for the Wabash Democracy and Public Discourse initiative, and Staff Writer for the college’s student-run newspaper, The Bachelor—to contribute to a safer and more inclusive atmosphere on and off-campus. After college, Chase aspires to become a lawyer, contributing to a reality where equal protection under the law is not just an ideal, but a reality. Additionally, he hopes to enter public policy and politics, writing legislation to create a safer and more inclusive society.
University of California, Berkley
Camille was raised in Bordeaux, France by two lesbian women at a time when it was still illegal for them to access reproductive technologies in France. She was exposed very early to the financial and legal uncertainty shared by many LGBTQ families. Being among the first generation of children raised by homosexual parents in France, Camille started to see herself as a necessary witness to fight against discrimination against LGBTQ families when she was a teenager. In her college in France, Camille founded an association to fight against sexual misconduct targeting LBGTQ students. At the University of California, Berkeley where she is currently studying, she is using her experience as a bisexual student raised by LGBTQ+ parents positively to advance the reproductive and adoptive rights of LGBTQ+ couples. After college, Camille hopes to complete a master's degree in human rights in Europe and Asia and to attend law school in the US to become an international human rights lawyer and advance LGBTQ+ rights in local and international courts.
University of Kansas
Arlowe Sue Davis is a proud nonbinary Okie from Tulsa. Clementine received their undergraduate degree in American Studies with a minor in Women and Gender Studies in 2018 as well as their graduate degree in Public History in 2022 from Oklahoma State University. Arlowe leverages their lived experience as a previous doula, youth worker, sexual health educator, and community organizer to record the lives and legacies of queer individuals from the Midwest through oral history methodologies and archival preservation. Clementine is joining the University of Kansas’ Women Gender and Sexualities Doctoral Program in the Fall of 2022 and will continue to create accessible 2SLGBTQIA+ history and popular culture content. Arlowe is passionate about bridging the gap between queer youth and elders as a path toward community healing. After graduation, Clementine hopes to aid in the creation of a Bible Belt 2SLGBTQIA+ museum and community space.
New York University
Ari Davydov was raised in Queens in New York City. He attends New York University (class of 2024), majoring in biology and philosophy. Since 2019, Ari conducted microbiology research at the NYU Langone School of Medicine, studying the infection mechanism of
the microsporidia parasite. Ari hopes to work directly with LGBTQ communities in STEM, focusing on promoting the representation of queer voices in academic spaces and in medicine. At NYU, he holds leadership positions in LGBTQ and Jewish activist groups, focusing on the intersection of their two central identities. After college, Ari plans to obtain an M.D.-Ph.D. in microbiology or synthetic biology, with an emphasis on translational research. He is interested in studying the biomechanics of cell motility in non-model organisms to mimic their unique biologies for antimicrobial therapies. He wants to engage directly with communities suffering with HIV/AIDS to develop both accessible and effective therapies.
Born and raised in Jersey City, New Jersey, Rio M. Dennis is a JD/MBA candidate at Georgetown University concentrating in constitutional law and strategy and economics. At Georgetown, she serves on the graduate student government as a senator, DEI Committee chair, liaison to the law school, and Constitution Committee member. Rio has been named a Consortium for Graduate Student in Management fellow, a Forté Foundation fellow, Reaching Out MBA fellow, and an Opportunity Law Scholar. Before returning to school, Rio worked at Goldman Sachs as a legal and global markets analyst drafting and negotiating legal
documents required for derivative trading. Rio also analyzed data for operational efficiency meetings with senior management. While at Goldman, Rio co-founded the Client Experience Group DEI Council. Rio holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania concentrating in management with a specialization in entrepreneurship and innovation and a certificate in Hispanic language. Rio aspires to be a civil rights attorney and constitutional law advocate focused on equitable rights for people of color, womxn, and LGBTQ individuals in the United States.
University of Bridgeport
Shayn Ember grew up in Oklahoma and earned their bachelor’s degree and a doctorate in neuroscience before deciding to change directions to work in the mental health field. After working for four years in programs that serve teens and young adults with substance use disorders, they decided to go back to school to get a clinical degree. Currently, they are pursuing an accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Bridgeport. After completing their BSN, they plan to work in an inpatient psychiatric treatment setting while studying to become a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. Their goal is to directly provide lifesaving, competent care for queer and trans people who struggle with mental health issues including substance use disorders. In addition to doing direct clinical work, they will continue to lead and advocate for policy changes that increase access to care in their state. The main driving force of Shayn's work is to decrease “deaths of despair” such as overdoses and suicides, especially in the LGBTQ community and other marginalized populations.
Harvard Business School
Joe English is the founder of Hope in a Box, a national nonprofit that brings diverse and inclusive curriculum, training, and literature to hundreds of public schools across all 50 states. Joe previously worked for Generation.org, the global education-to-employment nonprofit, and for McKinsey & Company as a consultant focusing on K-12 education. Joe has written on education issues for Politico, Education Week, Entrepreneur Magazine, the Advocate, and the United Nations, and he is the recipient of the Jefferson Award for Public Service and Forbes 30 Under 30. Joe grew up on a historic farm in rural New York and graduated from Yale College, where he was elected student body president.
University of California, Berkeley
Cyn Gomez was raised in Baldwin Park, California. In high school, Cyn served as GSA President and NAMI Vice-President and worked on a multitude of projects addressing the mental health of BIPOC and queer people in their community. He is studying social welfare with minors in Spanish and race and law at the University of California, Berkeley. While there, Cyn is engaged in student government and advocacy, as well as, working within the Berkeley Student Cooperative. After college, Cyn's main goal in life is to impact lives through politics, reforming systems that have caused historic traumas, and ensuring the rights of others through public service and the field of the law.
Farid Hannan is pursuing a Master’s in International Development at Harvard University. He was raised in Mexico and graduated with special distinctions from the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México Economics and International Relations joint degree program where he has taught seminars. He received the ITAM Research Award for his work on economic growth, published a peer-reviewed article about diplomatic history, and has spoken at the Woodrow Wilson Center.
Farid currently serves as Director of Economic Affairs for North America at the Foreign Ministry. He co-chaired the negotiations to relaunch the Mexico-U.S. High-Level Economic Dialogue, coordinated the donation of more than 15 million COVID-19 vaccines to his country and created a new initiative to promote innovation in Mexico. As an LGBTQ advocate, Farid drafted a reform bill that now enables trans Mexicans abroad to update their birth certificates. He is a Young Associate of the think tank COMEXI, speaks four languages and enjoys teaching yoga.
University of California, San Francisco
Kai Huang grew up in San Jose, California and came out as bisexual and transgender in high school. Despite the lack of support from their parents and school administration, they became president of the Gender and Sexuality Alliance and successfully advocated for trans students to be called the right name and pronouns, and for the establishment of more gender-neutral restrooms on campus. Upon coming to the University of California, Los Angeles, Kai built a network of support with mentors, friends, and chosen family. Before his second year, Kai informed his unsupportive parents that he was becoming financially independent of them due to their threats to withdraw support if he transitioned. At the UCLA LGBTQ Campus Resource Center, Kai worked as an outreach intern as well as a co-founder and co-lead for the Advocacy Committee. He also engaged in advocacy and healthcare as a director of Transgender UCLA Pride, Community Advisory Board member for the UCLA Gender Health Research Collaborative, clinical navigator for the LA LGBT Center, activism coordinator for Lavender Health Alliance at UCLA, and the inaugural undergraduate student representative for UCLA’s Trans Wellness Team. Upon graduating with a bachelor’s degree in psychobiology, Kai began working as a health education associate in the Center for Trans Youth Health and Development at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Kai will attend the University of San Francisco School of Medicine in Fall 2022 and will continue zir path to becoming an out queer and trans nonbinary Chinese American physician who provides and advocates for accessible trans and nonbinary inclusive healthcare.
Georgia State University
Camden was raised in Habersham, Georgia. Camden is an organizer for the Georgia Youth Justice Coalition and a founding member of the Youth Alliance Against Political Violence, a group that protects students’ rights to be politically active. In 2022, Camden worked to combat anti-trans and “Don’t Say Gay” bills in Georgia Legislature and participated in the Coalition Against Classroom Censorship, a coalition group fighting homophobic and racist classroom censorship bills. She is also an avid women’s rugby player. Camden studies International Relations and Environmental Science at Georgia State University. While at GSU, she hopes to encourage more students to get engaged in the legislative process and use her voice as an athlete to advocate for affirming, LGBTQ-safe spaces in recreational and collegiate sports.
University of Miami
Jahn Jaramillo grew up in Queens in New York City, and now lives in Miami, attending the University of Miami. He is pursuing a doctoral degree in prevention science and community health. Jahn’s research attends to the health of sexual and gender minorities, identity and cultural considerations to health promotion and HIV prevention strategies, and the development and testing of HIV interventions. Jahn aims to deliver medically appropriate and culturally competent care to LGBTQ populations. Through his Ph.D. program, Jahn will build on his previous experiences providing HIV prevention services to LGBTQ individuals. His goal is to become an expert in study design, intervention development, and program evaluation to address persistent gaps in HIV prevention services among Latinx sexual minority men. After his Ph.D. program, Jahn seeks to represent queer faculty in advancing science and providing excellent mentorship to future LGBTQ generations.
Sofia Lawsky was raised in New York City. In high school, Sofia served as the co-president of her school’s gender-sexuality alliance and led school-wide educational outreach initiatives for students and faculty and facilitated a safe space for other LGBTQ community members. Sofia extended this work as an intern with the LGBT Network, leading educational outreach for faculty across New York City and planning events for LGBTQ youth to provide safe spaces for them and embolden and connect LGBTQ youth from all over New York City. Additionally, Sofia conducted astrophysics research through the Science Research Mentoring Program at the American Museum of Natural History. Sofia will be studying Physics at Columbia University in the Fall of 2022. While there, Sofia hopes to bridge her passion for physics and advocacy by engaging with Spectra, Columbia’s society for diversity and inclusion in physics, the Society for Women in Physics, and the Columbia Queer Alliance. After college, Sofia plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Astrophysics and promote LGBTQ+ inclusivity and STEM and work towards making STEM fields more diverse, inclusive, and equitable.
Born and raised in the Pueblos of Jemez and Zuni, Eldred Lesansee is passionate about the protection of Indigenous cultural heritage. After witnessing the sale of sacred Pueblo cultural items in Paris, Eldred earned a Fulbright scholarship to research avenues to halt the sale of sensitive Indigenous cultural items worldwide. Through his research, Eldred gained professional experiences at the U.S. Embassy in France and UNESCO. In 2019, Eldred joined the New Mexico Indian Affairs Department where he led the behavioral health, cultural heritage, and economic development initiatives. Now, Eldred is pursuing a Juris Doctor at Columbia Law School to elevate his service to ensure that Indigenous peoples can live their most authentic lives, especially queer relatives. Eldred holds a B.A. in International Relations from Stanford University and an M.A. in International Development from Sciences Po. Eldred also serves as co-founder and secretary for the South Pacific Islander Organization.
Oberlin College and Conservatory
Lotus Lloyd is a Black Queer Transmasculine person from Harper Woods, Michigan. He is a sex educator, social justice advocate, and community builder who puts passion and empathy into everything he does. Lotus currently serves on the Planned Parenthood of Michigan Gender Affirming Care Community Advisory Board and is the co-founder of Michigan’s Transgender Student Union. In Fall 2022, he will attend the College of Arts and Sciences at Oberlin College and Conservatory where he will study gender, sexuality, and feminist studies along with Education. At Oberlin, he also plans to teach an experimental college course (EXCO) on the history and legacy of Eugenics, and work on a thesis that discusses the cultural construction of trans* identity and gender transition. After college, Lotus intends to work as a continuing education sex educator via work that involves teaching marginalized communities about how sex, sexuality, and sex-ed can better serve and uplift them.
California State University Maritime Academy
Margaret Malmquist-West was raised in Petaluma, California. She grew up thinking a STEM discipline would be too difficult for her and feared she would be alienated in the male-dominated engineering community. At 28, after completing a language degree and spending years working in various education and service jobs, she finally began the slow and daunting process of returning to school. This meant going back to take lower-level math and science courses and completing general education requirements, all while working full-time. In 2020, she started at California State University Maritime Academy, where she is majoring in mechanical engineering and pursuing a merchant mariner credential in marine engineering. She is on the President’s List for outstanding academic performance and plays on the women’s soccer team. Service plays a key role in her life: she’s volunteered with LGBTQ-serving organizations, been a voting assistance officer, has translated for the United Nations, deployed twice with the Red Cross, and is active in the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. After completing her degree, Margaret plans to work as a marine engineer aboard a ship or as a facilities engineer in a harsh environment.
University of Illinois Chicago
Jessie Miller is a bisexual activist and scholar. In the past year, she founded BRAVE- Bi+ Resilience Alliance for Violence Eradication, a national organization aimed at ending the bi+ domestic violence pandemic. In the past, Jessie was the president of the board of directors for Bisexual Queer Alliance Chicago for three years and served on the board of the Bisexual Organizing Project in Minnesota. Jessie is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Illinois Chicago and conducts research on bi+ health as well as racial and queer criminology. Jessie is determined to become a professor at the community college level and can't wait to meet her future students!
The University of Texas at Austin
Shania is a first-generation Ecuadorian-Colombian-American from Tulsa, Oklahoma. She grew up in rural Missouri, where she was often the only Latinx or "out" person in her community. Shania's sense of "otherness" in her rural midwestern communities drove her to study systems of inequality and marginalization. Shania studied Sociology at Truman State University in northeast Missouri. At Truman, she discovered her love of public service and knowledge creation. Shania was the first Latina president of her university's student government. In this role, she founded the LGBTQ+ Resource Center, the first targeted center for LGBTQ people in northeast Missouri. Through her involvement in the Ronald E. McNair Program and the University of Michigan's Summer Research Opportunities Program, Shania developed her identity as a population researcher who centers on LGBTQ and Latinx groups. To continue this work, Shania is attending the University of Texas at Austin to pursue her Ph.D. in Sociology.
New York University
Dasia Moore was raised in North and South Carolina. A poet and journalist, she has published work in The Boston Globe, The Offing, The Nation, Quartz, and others. Dasia received her B.A. in Ethics, Politics & Economics from Yale University in 2018. In the Fall of 2022, she will be pursuing an M.F.A. in Creative Writing at New York University, where she will study poetry as a Lillian Vernon Fellow. While at NYU, Dasia hopes to continue writing about the legacies she has inherited as a queer daughter of the Black South. She looks forward to a long career in writing and teaching, through which she hopes to create affirming spaces for all writers, especially Black and LGBTQ+ poets.
Zander Moricz is the youngest public plaintiff in the “Don’t Say Gay” lawsuit against Governor DeSantis and the state of Florida, as well as the founder and executive director of the Social Equity and Education Initiative. Since 2019, Zander has grown the SEE Initiative into a movement of over 1,000 Floridian organizers, leading the state’s student response to hateful legislation. With a current focus on the “Don’t Say Gay” law, Zander has given analyses on CNN and MSNBC as well as testimony to the Florida Senate. As the president of the Board at Florida Model United Nations, Florida’s largest independent Model UN program, Zander created an aid fund that established dozens of MUN programs in Title I schools and provides them with coaching, curriculum, and financial support. He is also the Central-Eastern director of communications for Diversify Our Narrative, a national organization with more than 6,000 organizers.
Zeina Nassif was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, where she attended St. Mary’s Episcopal School. At the age of 13, she came out and began exploring activism in her community. At St. Mary’s, they served as a Gay-Straight Alliance co-leader where they organized anti-bullying campaigns including GLSEN’s No Name-Calling Week and Day of Silence. With GLSEN Tennessee’s SHINE Team, she developed campaigns against the state legislature’s 2021 Slate of Hate towards LGBTQ youth. As a Bridge Builders CHANGE Fellow, they worked with the Inclusive Classrooms Cohort to create the ICONIC Pledge for educators seeking to implement inclusive practices for marginalized students. In 2020 and 2021, Zeina participated in the National Security Language Initiative for Youth, where she studied Russian language with teachers in Moldova and Latvia. At Wellesley College, they hope to continue studying Russian and explore international human rights advocacy. Zeina has four cats that she absolutely adores.
Nic Oke is a student advocate and educator who was born and raised in Baltimore, (more appropriately known as unceded Piscataway land). As an individual who became aware of their identities as a Black, Nigerian American, queer, and neurodivergent person at an early age, Nic came to understand the interpersonal and systemic nature of discrimination and oppression very early on. Since then, Nic has used their voice to promote change and combat injustice wherever possible, guided by a burning desire to make the world a more inclusive and just place than the one they’ve had to experience. To this end, Nic will be attending Cornell University in Fall 2023 to pursue a double-major in sociology and political science and a minor in either feminist, gender, and sexuality studies or crime, prisons, education, and justice. Upon graduating from Cornell, Nic plans to attend law school and obtain his Juris Doctor in order to become a civil rights or criminal defense lawyer, helping to provide legal aid to working-class and oppressed communities. Nic also plans to use their role to challenge, and eventually dismantle, the prison industrial complex, the school-to-prison pipeline, and various other forms of structural violence perpetrated by the legal system. When they are not actively organizing and advocating against societal challenges, Nic can be found binge-watching Netflix series with his family, hanging out with friends, reading political theory and historical fiction novels, or spending entirely too much time scrolling through social media sites.
Casey Orozco-Poore is a queer, non-binary person raised in the Bay Area, California. They graduated from Brown University with a degree in neurobiology. They are now a Harvard Medical School student, who served as chair of LGBTQIA and Allies at Harvard Medical School and has been active in medical education on LGBTQ health at a national level. They have been studying the neurobiological risks of “nerve-sparing” clitoral reduction surgeries non-consensually performed on young intersex children and mobilized this research for shifts in hospital and public health policy. As a University of California, Los Angeles, South American Program in HIV Research (SAPHIR) fellow, they are generating research and supporting projects with trans communities in Lima, Peru on the themes of resilience, resistance, and solidarity within the arts, activism and mutual aid. They plan to become a child neurologist, with an emphasis on affirming neurodiversity and non-carceral models of brain and mind healthcare.
The University of Texas at Austin
Fox is a queer, transgender, Hispanic scholar, born and raised in San Antonio, Texas with passions for public education, social justice, and re-centering erased histories. Driven by alienation from friends and family upon first coming out, Fox set out to lay the foundations for community support that he had lacked. They co-founded MacArthur High School’s first Gay-Straight Alliance and later co-founded the Gender and Sexuality Association of San Antonio College. As GSA Vice-President, Fox dedicated himself to supporting their houseless community with a donation drive. Through the Honors Academy and History department, he helped organize LGBTQ+ and Women’s History Month Exhibits. Now a double education and history major at the University of Texas at Austin, Fox remains active in their advocacy, recently marching at the Capitol for transgender visibility with the Queer and Transgender Student Alliance. Upon graduation, he aims to make waves as a proud transgender Texas public school educator.
The University of Texas at San Antonio
Michael Pozos was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. In high school, Michael served as the founder and president of Birdie Pride, the campus's first LGBTQ organization, increasing visibility and inclusivity for the LGBTQ community on campus. He will be majoring in nursing at the University of Texas at San Antonio in the Fall of 2022 where he hopes to engage in issues such as transgender access to health care.
Stony Brook University
Cassie Rubio is a writer, educator, and organizer born and based in Los Angeles. As an undergraduate student at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Cassie mobilized thousands of youth at the statewide and national levels around healing justice and educational equity initiatives. A current co-chair of The Feminist Front, Cassie continues to center fellow LGBTQ, BIPOC, and working-class survivors in their organizing efforts. In 2018, Cassie began filmmaking to bridge their love of activism and art together. After completing film fellowships with Outfest and Justice for My Sister, Cassie joined Sunrise Movement as a national video team lead where they developed a specialized curriculum and politicized film training for BIPOC youth across the country. Starting Fall 2022, Cassie will be moving to New York City to begin their MFA in Television Writing at Stony Brook University. Cassie believes that through film, a greater connection, liberation, and dreaming are possible.
Ramon Salado Romo
Ramon Salado was born and raised in Desert Hot Springs, California. In high school, Ramon served as an active community member through various leadership positions ranging from Associated Student Body president to district board member and even secretary for Riverside and San Bernardino Counties within the California Association for School Site Councils. Ramon will be studying Political Science at Stanford University in the Fall of 2022 with an interest in law and justice. While there, Ramon hopes to engage in various cultural activities as a member of the Latinx community and hopes to become involved in creative endeavors involving literature and the visual arts. After university, Ramon has plans to continue his education in law school to eventually practice immigration law and return to his desert community in Southern California.
Devorah Rena Simon was raised in New York City. In college, Devorah served as president of Gayvah, a group for Jewish queer students, and worked on Shtultz, a program for ultra-orthodox queer Jewish youth. Devorah will be pursuing her Master’s in Computer Science at Stanford University in the fall of 2022. While there, Devorah hopes to continue her advocacy work with her student group Challah at Stanford. After graduate school, Devorah plans to pursue medical robotics research and continue her work with Shtultz.
University of Iowa
Hailing from three-stoplight rural Osage, Iowa as a first-generation, low-income student, Nathen Spitz graduated with honors and a degree in psychology from the University of Iowa. After losing his mother at 13 while grappling with sexuality, and navigating multiple mental health conditions, he promised himself and his mom that he’d become a psychiatrist that he didn’t have access to. Nathen will start his fourth year of medical school in Fall 2022. Outside the hospital, he coordinates free clinics as the executive director of the Free Mental Health Clinic; delves into research on novel depression treatments that have been published in two peer-reviewed journals; staffs LGTBQ youth crisis hotlines through The Trevor Project; and leads LGBTQ trainings for healthcare workers. After completing his child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship, Nathen aspires to continue working with LGBTQ youth to address the mental health inequities they courageously face daily.
University of Vermont
Ivy Stanton is an honors student at the University of Vermont, where she is pursuing a double major in Economics and Spanish. Throughout high school and college, Ivy has dedicated herself to advocating for LGBTQ rights through her work on the MA Commission on LGBTQ Youth. After college, she plans on attending graduate school to further study economics.
University of California, Los Angeles
Sean is a first-generation college student at the University of California, Los Angeles, double majoring in human biology and society and anthropology with a minor in public health. Born and raised in Waipahu and Pearl City, Hawai’i, Sean’s passion for LGBTQ liberation, environmental justice, educational accessibility, and health equity stem from his family’s roots in the Philippines, Japan, and Hawai’i. Inspired by their resilience in the face of plantation labor, immigration, anti-Asian racism, and assimilation, Sean aims to become an anthropologist who researches the undercurrents of the US empire in the Pacific to understand how the liberation of people must be situated within the liberation of lands and oceans. Sean aims to become a tenured university professor where he can teach students about environmental justice and health equity in the Pacific and lead a research lab composed of LGBTQ students of color that use research to inform movements, activism, and liberation.
Kilin grew up in the small white town of Putnam Valley, New York. As a child, he struggled to process his sexual orientation amidst an ethnic, Asian American family clan that stigmatized queerness. Kilin joined the debate team in sixth grade, which helped him find his voice and fueled his curiosity regarding the role public policy plays in uplifting marginalized communities. In high school, Kilin co-captained the debate team, placing second at nationals, and served as managing editor of The Phillips Exeter Asian Magazine. Kilin’s involvement in debate gave him the tools and confidence to speak candidly about himself when he came out as gay in July 2021. His intersectional experiences as a queer, Hong Kongese American have made him interested in the intersection of law and public policy as a means to enact societal change. Kilin believes that securing voting rights for marginalized communities will ensure more equitable public policy. As the candidate Team co-leader of the Fair Ballot Project, Kilin passed seven township resolutions in New Jersey explicitly supporting fair ballot design. Now at Swarthmore College, Kilin is an A-Team attorney on the Mock Trial Team, a member of the
Swarthmore LGBTQ+ Student Advisory Board, a policy intern for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and a summer intern for the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office. Kilin has also been working as a Swarthmore Voting Inclusive Excellence Fellow, devising ways to ensure that transgender and non-binary Swarthmore students are able to obtain proper voter identification without fear of harassment or discrimination. Upon completing his degree in politics, philosophy, and economics, Kilin aspires to be a civil rights lawyer dedicated to shaping public policy and protecting every American’s right to vote and hopes to serve as a role model for future queer BIPOC youth.
Tennessee State University
Tyler Vazquez is a resident of Albany, New York, though they've lived in Seattle, Fayetteville, and Charlotte, North Carolina. In high school, Tyler served as the founder of the Black Student Union and work against anti-Black and anti-LGBTQ violence in school. Tyler will be studying Biology, Music, and Africana Studies at Tennessee State University in the fall of 2022 as a Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Scholar and Honors College student. After college, Tyler has agreed to attend Meharry Medical College as a member of the Class of 2029.
Cara was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. Growing up biracial, Cara learned the importance of staying true to your identity; a lesson that held true when she came out as a lesbian in 6th grade. Throughout school Cara served as a leader in GSAs focusing her efforts on inclusive sex education and increasing the availability of STI protection. She also used her platform as an acclaimed debater and team captain to advocate for intersectional rights and shift the focus in debate from “devil's advocacy” to exploring conflicting needs. Cara is a bit of a stereotypical cottagecore lesbian who enjoys practical hobbies such as candle making, crochet, sewing, cooking, and baking. During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cara used her sewing skills to make and distribute over 200 face masks to those in need nationwide. Cara intends to further study intersectional identity and cyclical violence at Pacific University 2026.
Matt Wood was raised in San Diego, California. At Brown University, he served as a residential peer leader and an officer for the Queer Alliance. Matt will be starting his MBA at Harvard Business School in the Fall of 2022, exploring new ways to invest in education and workforce innovation. After business school, Matt plans to return to social impact initiative work.
Aristotle attended school in New Hampshire. In their time, they researched the trans-coding of contemporary American horror cinema, along with teaching a course on transgender theory and performance studies. Aristotle will be studying women’s and gender studies at Columbia University in the Fall of 2022. While there, Aristotle hopes to engage by continuing their involvement with the literary arts and queer-of-color spaces. After college, Aristotle plans to pursue a career as an educator and continue advocating for spaces of performance and student-led pedagogy in education.