Scholarships help LGBTQ students overcome challenges

Point Foundation logo.

LOS ANGELES, JUNE 23, 2016 – Point Foundation (Point), the nation's largest scholarship-granting organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) students, today announced its 2016 class of 22 Point Foundation Scholars, as well as the launch of its new Community College Scholarship Program, which awarded scholarships to its first class of 11 students. [Lists of names appears at the end of this release.]

Many LGBTQ students struggle against harassment, lack of familial support, and/or financial hardships. Despite these challenges, however, they are also leaders in their communities and dedicated advocates for positive change. Point is proud to assist students in overcoming the barriers they face so that they may realize their full potential and complete their associate, undergraduate, or advanced education degrees.

Recognizing that nearly half of all undergraduates in the country are enrolled at a community college, Point has initiated a new program to help LGBTQ students in their final year of community college prepare to transfer to a four-year college or university. Wells Fargo, a longtime corporate partner of Point, is funding the inaugural year of Point's Community College Scholarship Program. 

"For many students, the path to attaining a higher education degree is not always straightforward," said Jorge Valencia, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of Point Foundation. "Educational advancement happens in stages – similar to the process of coming out over time as an LGBTQ individual. Point provides multidimensional support to LGBTQ students working toward their educational goals, and we are eager to help community college students who are ready to advance toward a four-year degree."

The 22 members of the 2016 Point Scholar Class join 51 Point Scholars who are currently pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees and are receiving financial assistance and programmatic support from Point. With the creation of the Community College Scholarship, as well as a continued dedication to leadership development, mentoring, and community support, Point looks forward to supporting an even broader community of LGBTQ students towards similar success. 

Notable facts about the 2016 Class of Point Foundation Scholars:

  • 50% represent racial and ethnic groups traditionally underrepresented in higher education.

  • 41% identify as transgender or gender nonconforming.

  • 36% are the first-generation in their family to go to college.

  • The 22 scholars come from 17 states and three countries.

  • Last year they collectively provided approx. 15,000 hours of service to their communities.

Point annually celebrates LGBTQ Pride Month in June by announcing its new class of Point Foundation Scholars, and now adds to the tradition by including the first 11 recipients of its Community College Scholarship in this announcement.

Notable facts about the 2016 Community College Scholarship recipients:

  • 100% identify with a racial or ethnic group other than white.

  • 81.8% currently receive tuition aid.

  • 50% are female and/or trans-identified.

Since 2002, Point has invested more than $18 million in the programmatic support of its scholars. Individuals, corporations, and organizations can support Point's mission by designating a scholarship with a "Name" -- recognizing the donor, or an individual or institution the donor wishes to honor. Named Scholarship donors pledge $100,000 over four years to cover the financial assistance, and programmatic support Point provides its scholars.  Point is grateful this year for a new scholarship provided by ViiV, as well as an increase in the number of HSBC supported scholarships.

Named Scholarships generously being supported are: Calamus Foundation, Estée Lauder Companies, HBO, HSBC, Janssen Therapeutic, Kevin Hummer, KPMG,  NBCUniversal, Point Honors Los Angeles, Rand Skolnick, Rim-Freeman, Rosen Goertz, Took Trust, Toyota Financial Services, Point Honors New York, Walter M. Decker, Viiv, Wells Fargo, and William J. Levy.

The 2016 Point Scholars, including their hometown, area of study and degree, school, and Named Scholarship (where applicable) are as follows: 

  • Claudia Astorino; Hazelton, PA; Anthropology; Ph.D.; The Graduate Center, City University of New York.

  • Eric Beeler; Roswell, GA; International affairs and Chinese; BA; The George Washington University; Washington, D.C.; William J. Levy Scholar.

  • Daniel Berezoswsky; Mexico City, Mexico; International Affairs; MA; Columbia University, NY; HBO Scholar.

  • Dawn Betts-Green; Sylacauga, AL; Library and Information Studies; Ph.D.; Florida State University, Tallahassee, Fl.

  • Melanie Camejo Coffigny; Calimete, Cuba; Neuroscience & Psychology; BS; Duke University, Durham, NC; Toyota Financial Services Scholar.

  • Bryce Celotto; Charlotte, NC; Teaching; MA; Brown University, Providence, R.I.

  • Guru Charan; Trichy, India; Business; MBA; Yale University, New Haven, CT; HSBC Scholar.

  • May Chen; San Francisco, CA; Public Health; Ph.D.; The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Chapel Hill, NC; Janssen Therapeutics Scholar.

  • Bridgette Davis; Donahue, IA; Social Work; Ph.D.; University of Chicago.

  • Ian Ellasante; Memphis, TN; University of Arizona; Ph.D.; American Indian Studies; Tucson, AZ.; Calamus Scholar.

  • Tarek Ellis; Virginia Beach, VA; Chemistry & Pre-Dental; BS; Georgia State University; Atlanta, GA.

  • Mel Ferrara; Pompton Plains, N.J.; Gender Studies; Ph.D.; University of Arizona; Tucson, AZ.

  • Kevin Henderson; Cleveland, OH; Political Science; Ph.D.; University of Massachusetts Amherst; ViiV Scholar.

  • Chai Jindasurat; Norman, OK; Public Policy; MPP; New York University.

  • Hadden Kelley; Albany, GA; Environmental Engineering; BS; Georgia Institute of Technology; Atlanta, GA.

  • Elias Lawliet; Joplin, MO; Gender Studies; BA; University of California, Los Angeles.

  • Jazz McGinnis; Portland, OR; Social Work; MSW; University of Michigan; Ann Arbor, MI; Rand Skolnick Scholar.

  • Madeline Pavek; Rochester, MN; Political Science & Gender Studies; BA; American University; Washington, D.C.

  • Dylan Rice; Cumberland, MD; Neurobiology; BS; Harvard College; Cambridge, MA; HSBC Scholar.

  • Whit Ryan; Cleveland, OH; Sports and Performance Psychology; MA; University of Denver.

  • Margaret Grace Wickerson; Englewood, FL; Materials Science & Nanoengineering; BS; Rice University; Houston, TX; HSBC Scholar.

  • Johannes Wilson; New York, NY; Nursing; BS; Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions; Boston, MA.

Detailed biography information for the 2016 Point Scholar class is available online, as are biographies of all 73 current Point Scholars and more than 230 Point Alumni.

The 2016 recipients of the Point Community College Scholarship, including their school and area of study, are as follows:

  • Cameron Brenner; Los Angeles Pierce College; Woodland Hills, CA; Theater Arts.

  • Kerri Cecil; Los Angeles City College; Los Angeles, CA; Cinema and Television Production.

  • Nelson Jarrin; LaGuardia Community College, Queens, N.Y.; Human Services.

  • Julius Caezar Lazo Jr.; Mt. San Antonio College, Walnut, CA; General Education.

  • Lavrenti Lopes; Los Angeles City College; Los Angeles, CA; Film Production.

  • Angel L. Medina; Antelope Valley College, Lancaster, CA; Deaf Studies & American Sign Language Interpreting Program.

  • Aaron Ramirez; LaGuardia Community College, Queens, N.Y.; Psychology.

  • Steven Roa; LaGuardia Community College, Queens, N.Y.; Business Administration.

  • Ebony Robertson; El Camino College, Torrance, CA; Nursing.

  • Hope Rugley; West Los Angeles College; Culver City, CA; Psychology.

  • Vanessa Watson; Fashion Institute of Technology; New York, N.Y.; Production Management in Fashion and Related Industries.

Biographies of the  Community College Scholarship recipients are available at Point's website.

About Point Foundation: Point Foundation empowers promising LGBTQ students to achieve their full academic and leadership potential – despite the obstacles often put before them – to make a significant impact on society.  
Since 2001, Point has invested more than $18 million in the education and support of Point Scholars, making it the nation's largest scholarship-granting organization for LGBTQ students of merit. The Foundation promotes change through scholarship funding, mentorship, leadership development and community service

The Gayly - 6/23/2016 @ 10:36 p.m. CDT