HRC Foundation awards five $2000 scholarships to student activists committed to achieving LGBT equality
Washington, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)– The Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocacy organization, announced five winners of the Generation Equality Scholarship for LGBT and allied students who have demonstrated exceptional commitment to queer equality. The scholarships are part of HRC Foundation’s Youth and Campus Outreach Program, which aims to provide tools, facilitate connections and empower young people to fight for LGBT equality on campus and beyond.
“All too often, LGBT students face obstacles in the pursuit of education, whether from a lack of family support or negative experiences in the classroom or on campus. The Generation Equality Scholarships were created to provide exceptional students with the funding that they need and deserve,” said Candace Gingrich, Associate Director of the HRC Foundation’s Youth and Campus Outreach Program. “In these challenging economic times, it’s important that current and prospective students have these resources available to them.”
Over 1,000 applications were received from all 50 states. Due to the outstanding pool of applicants, the HRC Foundation decided to award five instead of the previously announced three $2,000 scholarships.
“All of the applicants were incredibly talented and worthy,” said Gingrich. “The Scholarship Selection Committee had many discussions prior to making the final selections. The five scholarship winners embody the passion and commitment to queer activism that will hasten the day when equal protection and full equality become reality for LGBT Americans.”
Recipients will have the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. in October for HRC’s National Dinner and will be asked to share their college experiences by guest writing for HRC’s BackStory blog over the next two semesters. Short bios on the scholarship recipients follow:
- Ash Fisher – Ash Fisher enters her fourth year at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts as an accomplished activist and actor. She is an active member of NYU’s Queer Union and serves on the planning committee for the annual Gender Bender Ball. In fall of 2008, Ash co-founded BodyQueer, a group dedicated to advocacy and awareness around issues of eating disorders and body image in the queer community. Through Body Queer, she has organized on-campus events such as documentaries and collaborative murals about body image and gender identity. Ash serves on the Advocate magazine Youth Advisory Board and has been published in the magazine.
Ash plans on using her talents as an artist and her passion as an activist to implement positive changes in the LGBT community and bring transgender issues to the forefront: “Tisch has taught me how to work in groups to create theatre, and how to integrate politics and activism into these creations.”
- Marley Hamrick – Marley Hamrick enters her first year at Colorado College with experience and success as a queer activist. Hamrick served for two years as Co-President of Spectrum Connection, Niwot High School’s (CO) Gay-Straight Alliance. While in this role, she successfully lobbied the St. Vrain Valley School District to add sexual orientation and gender identity to its non-discrimination policy. Her passion also permeates her academic work, researching the impact of groupthink on the bullying of transgender youth for the research requirement of her International Baccalaureate Diploma Program.
Marley will continue her work with the LGBT community while a student at Colorado College. She understands the struggle that queer youth face with self-acceptance: “On a societal level, queers and allies must educate the public and work toward changing policies so that LGBTQ people experience greater acceptance from others, and thus greater acceptance with themselves. I have the power to decrease self-hatred among LGBTQ youth, and I fully embrace the challenge.”
- Alex Morse – Alex Morse, a third-year student at Brown University, has a long history of involvement with the LGBTQ community. While a student at Holyoke High School (MA), Alex founded the Gay-Straight Alliance and later served as its President. He also established a non-profit, the Holyoke GLBTQ Task Force, in an effort to make his hometown a safer place for LGBTQ-identified people. At Brown, Alex has held leadership positions with the Queer Alliance, the Queer Community Committee, and Quest, a confidential support group for questioning students. Most recently, Alex organized an Anti-Bullying Community Forum in Springfield in response to the tragic suicide of Carl Joseph Walker Hoover, an eleven-year old who took his own life as a result of school bullying.
Alex’s work has even been noted by the Mayor of Holyoke, Michael Sullivan, who says he has “never been witness to any young citizen who more fully understands a commitment to equity, fairness and social justice more than Alex Morse.” Alex hopes to be mayor of Holyoke himself in five years so that he can be in a position to “further the rights of oppressed people on all accounts, especially LGBTQ people, people of color and the poor.”
- Arianna Trujillo-Robnett – Arianna Trujillo-Robnett enters her second year of college at St. Edwards College in Austin with grassroots experience of someone twice her age. While a student at Mt. Pleasant High School in San Jose, CA, she founded a social justice group – the Human Rights Club – focused on issues such as LGBT rights, HIV/AIDS, poverty and homelessness. Arianna showed her commitment to LGBT health issues by serving on the HIV/AIDS Community Planning Group of Santa Clara (CA) County. Upon graduating from high school, Arianna jumped directly into electoral politics by first volunteering on the Obama for America campaign and then at 17 became the campaign’s youngest full-time staff member.
After graduating, Arianna plans to merge her passion and experience: “I will utilize the skills I obtained working on campaigns and as an HIV test counselor to reach out to at-risk communities, educate the public and empower the next generation of queer youth.”
- Natalka Wiszczur – Natalka Wiszczur is a second-year student at University of North Carolina – Asheville and is active both on campus and in the Asheville community. Natalka volunteers at One Voice, a rape crisis center, where she provides short-term counseling and crisis intervention and trains new advocates on LGBTQ issues. Since 2007, she has been actively involved with Tranzmission, a project of Asheville Prison Books that supports queer and transgender prisoners by providing books and pen-pals. Natalka has created a queer prom in Asheville that serves as a major fundraiser for Tranzmission and has organized annual events like Take Back the Night and Stonewall Remembrance Day.
At UNCA, Natalka has developed an interdisciplinary major focusing on sex and sexuality. “My degree is designed to integrate the ideas behind sex and sexuality from sociological, psychological and physiological perspectives while simultaneously developing the skills to actively promote healthy sexuality within the community.” In the future, she plans to increase collaboration between queer prison support groups and continue working with at-risk queer and transgender youth.
For more information about the winners and the Generation Equality Scholarships, visit:www.hrc.org/GenEQScholarshipWinners.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.