PFLAG Announces 2010 Scholarship Recipients
Collyn Clark and Caitlynn Samuel are PFLAG Richmond’s 2010 Scholarship Recipients.
Clark is a graduating senior from Highland Springs High School and Caitlynn Samuel begins her Junior year at VCU in September.
They receive their scholarships at PFLAG’s July 13 meeting. Read excerpts from their essays below.
Collyn Clark’s Essay Excerpt
Situations of abuse and discrimination happen to thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) teens across the country. The lack of understanding and support from parents and their communities is truly unbearable for young LGBT youth. Throughout the past three years, I have taken what I have learned from my unfortunate family situations and transformed it into activism. I am fully aware of the impact that my sexual orientation will have on my future success. Although I have come to terms that my orientation may jeopardize my career path or personal aspirations, it does not change my character, integrity, or my thirst for knowledge and excellence. This cause is what motivated me to apply for this scholarship.
Throughout my high school career, I have always had the respect of many of the faculty and staff at Highland Springs as well as my family and friends. I have remained a leader, role model and inspiration to my fellow students. Although many have shown their disapproval for LGBT rights, they have always shown me the respect for fighting for this cause. One teacher in particular found a unique interest in me and saw what impact I had on the student body……
I have realized that although I have overcome my familial trials and tribulations as a LGBT youth, there are others in the community who are ostracized because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. I feel as though I can use my education from gaining a degree to impact my community. In order to combat the issues of discrimination and inequality that face LGBT Americans and promote change in the community, I took on the role as leader in the YEL program (Youth Engaged in Leadership) at ROSMY. I participate in Equality Virginia…. In addition, I work to advance a legislative and public policy agenda that will move Virginia towards equality for all. While being a part of these organizations as well as other clubs and sports, I have still been able to maintain a GPA of 3.7223 and being president of 3 clubs.
My family, especially my mother, instilled it in me that nothing is impossible. My mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2005. Two years later, my little brother was born. With both of these factors taking a toll on her body, I saw my mother getting weaker and weaker by the day but she managed to stay positive. The medications needed to help with the symptoms of MS as well as the supplies need for the baby, took away from the family income drastically….. While battling her disease, she has obtained an MBA as well as starting her own wedding consulting business. My parents have always challenged me to do my best and to fight for what I believe in….
Receiving this scholarship will get me one step closer to helping those that are underrepresented. The LGBT community is treated as second class citizens and I want to be the one that makes an impact. In college, I plan to major is political science and work my way to becoming a civil rights lawyer so that I may become the voice for the present and future.
Caitlynn Samuel’s Essay Excerpt
I think that everyone has something they’re passionate about in life. I didn’t have that for a long time. I had known that I was a lesbian for years and was finally ready to be “out” and not care about what anyone else thought. That was the beginning of my freshman year of college. I went through that whole year searching for something I could do to fight for LGBT rights, my rights. I was searching for something to give my life meaning other than college; I was hesitant to throw myself into activism this early but I wanted that drive and passion that everyone else had. When I found my passion, it wasn’t a certain person who inspired me to be active but a group of people.
I joined VCU’s LGBT advocacy group, Queer Action, at the start of my sophomore year of college…..
In a short time in this group, I volunteered to take charge of certain events we held and by doing that, worked my way into a small officer position. The 4 other officers are amazing people…..
About a month ago, we organized our antidiscrimination rally in response to Ken Cuccinelli’s letter to universities. Since then I have organized trips to fR and ordered and distributed Queer the Census stickers for our organization. I also started VA intercollegiate OUT on facebook so other LGBT university groups in VA can post their events or rallies….
Recently, I’ve been in contact with an intern from HRC trying to get one of their Voices of Honor stops in Richmond. This is a movie and panel discussion about ending DADT. That’s a work in progress that will hopefully be here soon. Next semester I’ll be taking over the position of Treasurer. It’s a huge responsibility and I’m honored that the others think I can do it. On top of all this, Queer Action is also family. I’ve never had a really close group of other people who identify as LGBT and becoming a part of this group has helped me grow as a person.
I can’t explain how much this group has inspired me but I know that now I have the confidence to stand out and stand up for equality and what I think is right. I feel like this is what I’m supposed to be doing in life. I never would have found this passion for activism without Queer Action.
“We can’t understand our present and plan effectively for the future without knowing where we came from.”September 30, 2016
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