2012 Scholarship Recipients
Amelia Abiem (SOUTH SUDAN) Born in South Sudan, Amelia lived for 15 years as a refugee in Kenya. Losing several members of her family during the Sudanese civil war, she was unable to continue her schooling. Amelia is currently studying political science at Seattle Central Community College and will soon transfer to Seattle University. Discriminated against for being an ally to her lesbian cousin, Amelia wants to use her education to improve the rights of women and LGBTQ people in her homeland.
Omar Acosta (SEATTLE) Omar has faced many challenges related to growing up with child abuse and discrimination, difficult experiences which have been critical to shaping who he is today. He hopes to obtain a PhD in neurobiology and behavior at the University of Washington that will allow him to help individuals facing different challenges in their lives, particular gay people coming out and those diagnosed with HIV. In the meantime, he continues to participate in the community as a board member for the Seattle Front Runners, where he recently was recognized as 2012 Volunteer of the Year.
Arianna Allahyar (PUYALLUP) Born and raised in Puyallup, Arianna is pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in urban and regional planning at Cal Poly Pomona. She takes pride in remaining active in her university’s LGBTQIA community, working as a student assistant for the Pride Center. Specializing in transgender topics, she aspires to break down labels within the LGBTQIA community. In her future, Arianna wishes to increase the quality of life in communities through city planning, ensuring that all voices are heard and all needs of community members are addressed when creating policy.
Najwa Alsheikh (SEATTLE) Najwa is a Seattle native and a student at Seattle Central Community College. She is heavily involved with on-campus activities including Student Council, College Council and Phi Theta Kappa. Her experience at SCCC has been transformational and a profound source of inspiration for her. Najwa also serves on several community committees, assuring that the voices of LGBT people and people of color are well represented. She aspires to attend law school and then work to help advance civil rights for minorities and women.
Julian Chavez-Gamez (MOSES LAKE) Overcoming the tragic loss of his father, Julian has persevered and made education and helping others his life’s mission. Julian plans to attend the University of Washington in the fall to major in social welfare. He recently founded Sparks of Hope, a free one-day camp for 30 children ages 5-12 to help them through the grieving process after losing a loved one, serving a need that he saw unfulfilled in the community. His long term goal is to earn a Master’s in counseling and to start a nonprofit organization serving disadvantaged populations.
Alex Constant (RANCHO PALOS VERDES, CA) Alex is an autistic, gay, Jewish 20-year old majoring in informatics, a branch of computer science at the University of Washington. His research at UW and Yale includes prototyping smarthome technology, work with semiconductors in recycling plants and helping frame an algorithm to predict post-operative pain in pregnant women. Alex has established mindfulness meditation, sits at the UW Henry Art Gallery, taught a Freshman Interest Group, is trying to establish a STEM LGBTQ organization with UW called oSTEM, and has become a librarian at UW.
Maksym Dedushko (CHERNIHIV, UKRAINE) Maksym first came to the United States as an exchange student at Garfield High School. Fearful of his impending return to a conservative Ukrainian society and mandatory military service, Maksym successfully petitioned for asylum based on sexual orientation and fear of persecution. The first member of his family to attend college, Maksym completed an Associate’s degree at Seattle Central and is currently enrolled at UW studying molecular biology, with the goal of pursuing a nursing degree. Maksym is the recipient of the Chester Podlodowski Memorial Scholarship.
Martha Ercolano (SEATTLE) Martha is passionate about math, social justice and her African-American and Lesbian identities. She is studying math at Seattle Central Community College and will transfer to the Evergreen State College in the fall. She represented SCCC at the annual Students of Color conference, has danced in the Intiman Theatre’s Black Nativity, and plays roller derby with the Tilted Thunder Rail Birds. Martha looks forward to representing minorities by being vocal about the presence of Black and LGBTQ people in technical fields. Martha is a recipient of the Microsoft Scholarship.
Molly Fitzpatrick (SPOKANE) Molly, a Running Start student Eastern Washington University, helped organize a 2,000-person protest against the Westboro Baptist Church when they demonstrated at EWU. As the president of VOX/Scary Feminists, she handed out condoms and educated hundreds about rape culture and reproductive health and rights. With Corazon Scarves she raises funds for victims of oppression and violence in Guatemala. She would like to work with the transgender community and those with severe mental illness, while continuing her passionate work as a political activist.
Allan Fonseca (MABTON) A three-time GSBA scholar and Running Start student, Allan has attended Eastern Washington University. As a young boy, Allan was faced with many challenges because of his race, economic background and sexual orientation. His confidence has grown exponentially, and he has emerged as a stronger man ready to fight for equality. Allan served as the President of Eagle Pride and Vice President of VOX/Scary Feminists at EWU. His goal is to study nursing. Allan is the recipient of the Don Moreland Memorial Scholarship.
Juan Franco Ricardo (BOGOTÁ, COLOMBIA) Juan came to the U.S. from Colombia at age nine, where he faced considerable challenges adjusting to a new country and culture. Overcoming a difficult relationship with his parents, he discovered a passion for the world of fine arts. At Cornish College of the Arts, Juan creates conceptual art in sculpture, photography, printmaking and performance, exploring the intimate relationship between physical and conceptual identities. He strives to create art that challenges and offers critical thinking about the world.
Michelle Goodman (MADISON, WI) A single, bisexual mother, Michelle has overcome homelessness, drug addiction and domestic violence. She has suffered from marginalization and knows what it is like to be told that her life did not matter. She is currently the co-facilitator for Lavender Lunch, a gathering where LGBTQ members can share their stories. She is also working with From the Earth and Beyond, a community to raise awareness of homelessness and hunger. She will be attending the Evergreen State College in the fall.
Michael Hanley (SEATTLE) Michael grew up in Seattle with his two moms and has just completed his first year at the University of California Berkeley and will be attending the University of Washington in the fall. The performing arts have been his passion for many years and he is currently studying drama. His onstage and offstage credits are numerous, and include performances in Seattle as well as the Bay Area. He hopes to one day tie all his theatre arts skills together in pursuit of his dream career as a theatre director. Michael is the recipient of the David Barzilai Memorial Scholarship.
Kelly Hill (OAK HARBOR) Kelly worked at the BABES Network for six and a half years, providing peer education and support for women living with HIV/AIDS. She ran the HOPE Project, training and coordinating people living with HIV/AIDS to share their stories in order to educate the public, combat stigma and stop the spread of HIV. She has also done extensive volunteer work with Lambert House and The Arc of King County. Her goal is to finish her Bachelor’s degree and to pursue a Master’s to do mental health counseling for underserved and marginalized populations. Kelly is a recipient of the Future Ribbons Scholarship.
Logan Hunt (OGDEN, UT) While in high school, Logan organized a coalition of five queer/straight alliances across Washington County, Utah. He has been highly engaged in the community, volunteering with Utah Pride, Link, Planned Parenthood, Queer Youth Space and even his own group, Queer Volunteers. Logan currently attends Seattle Central Community College, planning to transfer to the University of Washington to study computer engineering and economics. His goal is to form and lead his own non-profit organization which creates revolutionary teaching systems and educational programs. Logan is the recipient of the Rich Thoelke Memorial Scholarship.
Katy I. (ST. PAUL, MN) Katy is a 24-year old returning student studying social justice, labor history, education and mathematics at the Evergreen State College. A fierce supporter of workers’ rights, she is a shop steward and representative with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 5. Her proudest accomplishment are the work that she has done to break down internalized oppression and end cycles of abuse in her own life. Katy is also proud of serving as a queer ambassador to the labor movement. Her goal is to pursue a career in education.
Emily Juhre (GREENACRES) Emily, a 21-year-old fourth-year GSBA scholar, is studying psychology at the University of Washington, and plans to earn a Master’s in social work to become a therapist. Emily is a founding member of her high school GSA, Students Organizing for LGBTQ Equality and she also volunteers with Teen Link, a teen suicide prevention organization. Emily is a resident advisor at the UW and proudly sports her Equality sticker and Three Dollar Bill swag on her door for residents and fellow staff to see. Emily is the recipient of the Glenn Johnson and Michael Melancon Bright Horizon Scholarship.
Jamie Keene (SEATTLE) Jamie, a Seattle native, came out as a lesbian to her entire community at age eleven, which she describes as a continuous whirlwind journey of navigating sexuality, identity, politics and culture. Her greatest passion is for social justice advocacy, which manifests itself in her leadership of her high school’s GSA, and some day it will shape her professional life as a community organizer for the LGBTQ community. Her highest aspiration is simple: to leave the world a better place than she found it. She will be enrolling at Smith College in the fall.
Mylexia King (VANCOUVER) When she came out, Mylexia was rejected her family and was even told that she deserved to die. Overcoming this rejection inspired her to start a GSA at her high school and to give back to the community around her. As a former Running Start student, Mylexia’s education is very important to her and she is currently working towards her Associate’s degree at Clark College. She plans to transfer to the University of Washington Tacoma or Washington State University for a degree in criminal justice in order to become a police officer.
Liam Klarnet (SEATTLE) Liam embraces a wide range of identities – queer, boy, Jew, atheist, cook, artist, dork, nerdfighter, tranny, trekkie, hairdresser, goofball, environmentalist, knitter, Italian – and strives to show that no one is defined by any one single characteristic of their lives. Serving as a positive trans role model is a primary goal of Liam’s, and he intends to lead by example, such as when he founded a GSA at Seattle Academy. He will be enrolling in the honors school at the University of Washington in the fall, with a planned course of study in engineering or psychology.
Aysha Kloub (VANCOUVER) Aysha is a Muslim, queer, first-generation student, poet and community organizer at Fairhaven and Western Washington University. She is designing a concentration in migrant and Queer Legal Advocacy. As the facilitator of the Queer People of Color group on campus, a member of the Student Coalition for Immigration Rights and organizer with Reteaching Gender and Sexuality, she is committed to working for transformative social change. Aysha hopes to attend law school one day to work as a legal advocate with queer and immigrant youth.
Andrew Nelson (BELLEVUE) Andrew has an insatiable desire to understand the world around him. He is passionate about community organizing and youth development, having worked with organizations such as SOAR, Teens in Public Service and ArtsEd Washington. Additionally he serves on the board for Queer Youth Space | ThreeWINGS. He will be studying humanities at Princeton University in the fall, and his goal is to make the community a more just, inclusive and compassionate place for everybody.
Thomas Nguyen (RENTON) Harassed and bullied for being a male cheerleader, Thomas has turned these experiences into an active involvement in the LGBT community. He is a GLSEN national ambassador, on the board of Queer Youth Space, an OUTspoken panelist and Power of Prevention member for the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center. He plans on double majoring in communications and law, societies & justice, with a minor in business and marketing from the University of Washington. After college, Thomas aspires to use public relations to implement positive outcomes for marginalized populations.
Andrew Nichols (GRANITE FALLS) Andrew has an Associate’s degree from Edmonds Community College and is currently at Western Washington University studying computer science. He recently co-authored a paper in the IEEE Journal of Quantum Electronics and presented his research to the Council for Undergraduate Research. With his two moms, Andrew has been actively engaged with PFLAG, as well as NARAL and various campus organizations. Furthering acceptance and social change is a goal of Andrew’s, whether he finds a career as a supportive professor or as a software engineer working to include LGBTQ characters in video games. Andrew is a recipient of the Microsoft Scholarship.
Fennec Oak (OLYMPIA) A 27-year old transgender man, Fennec currently attends the Automotive Technologies Program at South Puget Sound Community College. He has spent his life supporting the queer community and plans to use his knowledge in automotive technologies to continue on that path. He hopes to one day start a queer auto shop which could also serve as a safe space for LGBTQII people. Fennec has been involved with the Emma Goldman Youth and Homeless Outreach Project in Olympia as well as with Queer Rock Camp.
Dante Obcena (SEATTLE) Dante is a nursing student and volunteers at a local hospital serving veterans. He is the student body president of his college. He and his fellow student leaders led a rally in Olympia and lobbying legislators to secure funding for community and technical colleges. Last year he received an award for academic excellence and community service from Governor Gregoire. This year GLSEN named him as Community Leader of the Year for his successful statewide advocacy to include optional LGBTQ demographic data gathering in higher education. This will help give school administrators the data they need to properly implement LGBT-inclusive policies and practices regarding student safety, retention and academic success. Finally, we are not just a “club” on campus anymore – we queerly and legally exist.
Hanna O’Donnell (CARNATION) Service towards others have always been the driving force in Hanna’s life. A four-time GSBA scholar, she is pursuing a degree in special education at Central Washington University. As a queer woman planning on teaching at the high school level, she hopes to inspire youth to question the world around them, fight for their own rights and those of others, and continue on a path towards social justice.
Marilynn Paleso’o (RENTON) Raised in an abusive home, Marilynn has worked to overcome the struggles of her upbringing. Moving into foster care turned her life around and gave her the opportunity to express herself freely. Becoming more engaged with the LGBTQ community, she served as co-president of her school’s GSA and as the president of the Super Queeros club, a confidential peer-led support group for LGBTQ students. Marilynn’s goal is to work as either a fashion marketer providing an LGBTQ voice in the industry, or as an art therapist giving support to those in need.
Darlene Palmer (SPOKANE) Darlene is a first-generation Hispanic student at Washington State University, majoring in Human Development. A survivor of child abuse, she committed herself to raising her child in a safe, healthy and positive home without fear. Darlene spends much of her time bringing visibility to the LGBTQ+ community in Spokane by mentoring at-risk youth, speaking on panels as a lesbian parent, and volunteering with homeless women. Darlene’s goal is to study clinical psychology and work in the family court system and with transgendered persons. Darlene is the recipient of the Richard C. Rolfs Scholarship.
Greg Phelps (PULLMAN) Greg, a third-year GSBA scholar, grew up in Pullman. After many personal and familial struggles that came with living in a small town, he decided to attend Western Washington University. Greg is studying computer science and is a member of the Dead Parrot’s Society, the award-winning college improv comedy group. He has done comedy across the Northwest and in this year’s Chicago Improv Festival. His dream is to work in the tech industry by day and do comedy by night, all while promoting equality for the LGBTQ community. Greg is a recipient of the Microsoft Scholarship.
Carlos “Fezz” Reyes (MOUNT VERNON) Fezz, a third-year GSBA scholar, was pushed out of his home at age 17 after coming out, and is completely responsible for his own finances. He currently attends Skagit Valley College and will soon transfer to Washington State University to study animal and veterinary sciences. Fezz has volunteered at several GSBA events and is always looking for ways to give back. He continues his involvement with the Skagit Valley College Rainbow Alliance. His goal is to become a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.
Colby Rezayat (BAINBRIDGE ISLAND) Raised on Bainbridge Island, Colby is currently attending Western Washington University, where he is working towards his degree in human services. He is a volunteer advocate for Skagit Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services, serves on the boards of Skagit PFLAG and the Washington State Council of PFLAG. At Western he has served as the president of the Human Service Club. Colby hopes to get his Master’s in social work to get his certification to practice mental health counseling with an emphasis on LGBT issues.
Jeffrey Roper (SEATTLE) Jeffrey has been a passionate advocate for the community over the years. He has volunteered and served with too many organizations to list, and during his time at Countrywide Home Loans, Jeffrey successfully lobbied for the company to support LGBT groups financially and through volunteer service, and served as a local External Relations coordinator for LGBT groups. Overcoming tremendous personal adversity, he has now set his sights on a career in social work. Jeff is a recipient of the Future Ribbons Scholarship.
Cade Schmitt (EPHRATA) Going to college was more than a continuation of Cade’s education; it was about finding comfort, establishing community and answering all the questions his upbringing in failed to address. He was able to be openly transgender for the first time and began to focus his advocacy for marginalized people. Cade is focusing on visual journalism at Western Washington University, and his goal is to document social movements through film and photography, to educate and empower others to use their voices for change.
Alejandra Silva Hernández (VANCOUVER) Growing up in Vancouver, Alex’s family is originally from Oaxaca, Mexico. Diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus, an invisible autoimmune disease, has been a major obstacle to overcome. Alex is currently a pre-medical and microbiology major at Washington State University Vancouver, and she plans to continue her education in order to become a cardiovascular surgeon. Using her experiences as a bisexual woman, Alex hopes to positively affect the LGBTQ community and influence social change in medicine.
Cady Smith (EATONVILLE) Raised in a loving family but in an unfriendly community, Cady faced the daunting task of talking a close friend out of committing suicide at age 14. Since then, she has worked tirelessly to promote diversity and provide support for queer youth in rural communities with few resources and little hope. Cady is a coordinator for Pacific Lutheran University’s Queer Ally Student Union and volunteers for the anonymous support group Crossroads. She is studying both graphic design and anthropology, with the goal of starting a career in social justice.
Ash Sulzer (TACOMA) Raised in Pierce County, Ash has been recognized for her service and commitment to the queer community, receiving the Pride Foundation’s 2011 Sapphire Youth Award. Ash loves working with her peers doing cultural competency and queer outreach work in the Tacoma public schools. She currently attends Everest College, pursuing a career in massage therapy, specializing in treatment massage. She aspires to work at the Oasis Youth Center and to give back to those who have helped her and continue to create a safe haven for those in need.
Janae Teal (VANCOUVER) A first-generation student from small-town Eastern Washington, Janae is completing a double degree in sociology and English from WSU Vancouver. She was recently recognized with the Humanitarian Award for her involvement in LGBTQ activism. She has organized campaigns to promote education about gender diversity as well as Gender Neutral Bathroom Week. As a gender non-conforming queer person, Janae understands the adversity that many queer people are faced with and strives to be the voice of those who have been silenced. Her next goal is to pursue a graduate degree in sociology.
Clare Tonelli (SEATTLE) Clare was born and raised in Seattle. She has worked extensively on issues of gender and sexuality justice since high school with the Nova Project and Queer Youth Space, where she helped organize the largest grant that the city’s Department of Neighborhoods has ever disbursed. She is attending Seattle Central and intends to transfer to the University of Washington to study early childhood development, family studies and queer studies. Her goal is to become an elementary school teacher, focusing on alternative, community-based education. Clare is the recipient of the C. Wight Reade Memorial Scholarship.
Danny Wakefield (SEATTLE) Danny is a first-generation college student from a small Midwestern town. As a lifelong advocate for people with autism and other disabilities, Danny is pursuing a degree as an Autism Specialist. His advocacy for children with special needs is not separate from his LGBTQ advocacy; as an instructional assistant for the Seattle School District, he uses his position to raise transgender and queer awareness. When he is not working or going to school, you can find Danny alongside his champion border collie, racing in the canine/human sport flyball.
Anthony Yun (BELLEVUE) A queer person of color, Anthony has often felt difficulty finding a position within his communities. Nonetheless, he has served as a State Officer for Future Business Leaders of America and was recently named Future Business Leader of the Year. He founded his high school’s GSA and is part of the Jump-Start Team for Washington GLSEN. He will be attending the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington in the fall, with the goal of pursuing a career in finance to help address unique challenges faced by LGBT families.
NOTE: Some students are not included in this list to protect their privacy.
Thank you to our 2012 Scholarship Partner
PHOTOS: Team Photogenic © 2011
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