Four Vancouver youth have won university scholarships that recognize leadership in the GLBT community.
The Leadership, Opportunity, Unity and Diversity (LOUD) foundation, spearheaded by the Gay and Lesbian Business Association (GLBA) and now in its second year, will award Taylor Basso, Ryan Clayton and Jacob Schroeder with $2,000 scholarships, while Julie Browne will be awarded a $1,000 scholarship sponsored by Little Sister’s Book & Art Emporium.
LOUD Foundation president Tyler Wozny says the main goal of the scholarship program is to support future leaders of the GLBT community.
“They don’t have to be gay. They can be straight, they can be really anything. They just have to be involved,” he says.
Clayton says the scholarship money will be a big help toward his tuition.
“It helps a lot. It’ll pay off most of it so it’ll be longer before I have to get a student loan, and it’ll be less out of my own pocket.”
The first-year Langara arts student hopes to complete a Bachelor of Social Work at UBC and to one day manage his own team of facilitators to educate people in rural areas about the effects of homophobia.
Browne, 17, says the scholarship will help her when she heads to McGill University next year. Currently the president of her school’s Rainbow Club, Browne says she looks forward to joining LGBT clubs once she begins university.
“Because [the Rainbow Club] really has been a great experience and I’ve met a lot of really amazing people through it,” she says.
Apart from helping out with tuition costs, the scholarships also involve a mentoring component so recipients can benefit from the experience of GLBA members.
“To know that there’s a community waiting for them, that’s ready to support them is, I think, a huge benefit to their growth,” says Wozny.
Basso says he’s incredibly grateful for everything the scholarship has to offer.
“I don’t think anybody does any outreach work or anything like that with the idea that they are somehow entitled to recognition for it, so when recognition does come in this way, it’s a very flattering and humbling thing,” he says.
The creative writing student was recognized for his work with Camp Fyrefly (now Camp Out), a leadership camp for LGBT youth at UBC, as well as his anti-homophobia outreach work at local high schools.
Basso also incorporates queer themes and characters into his stage-play work and says he’s happy to be called a queer writer.
“Because it’s not something that bugs me, and I’m happy to show the many sides of queer people and queer stories,” says Basso.
Schroeder is a political philosophy student at UBC and helps run an online support forum for gay teens.
“Most of the people there are in the closet or dealing with stuff that they might not be comfortable going to somebody that they know about, so it’s a really good community for people who might not have community,” he says.
The scholarships will be presented at the 2010 LOUD Awards, to be held at the CBC on May 20.