Congratulations to our 2022 University of Florida Association of LGBTQ+ Alumni scholarship recipients!
“Receiving the LGBTQ Alumni Association Scholarship validates my efforts–and the efforts of so many others–to form a vibrant queer community at the University of Florida. I applied in hopes of publicizing OUTGrad, the LGBTQ+ grad student organization I and my colleagues helped restart. Recognition for the award shows queer Gators (and the UF community at large) that joyful LGBTQ+ connection is not tangential to university life but integral to it. I hope to incorporate this joyful community in my career post-graduation: as an educator in English literature, I come across so many students (LGBTQ+ or not) who use the texts we discuss to form connections in their own lives. My involvement in OUTGrad has helped me be my authentic self and create safe spaces for exploration, skills I hope to use to make my classrooms into vibrant learning communities.
My advice to current and future LGBTQ+ Gators, then, is to see your community not as something you fall into but something you can actively form through conversation, connection, and mutual support. Our different levels of privilege, knowledge, and skill may create obstacles; our differences may seem to divide us. But no matter how small, we all have something to contribute to the spaces we create together.“
“I am so honored and grateful to have received the UF LGBTQ+ Alumni Scholarship. I will do my best to uphold the values of the Association of the LGBTQ+ Alumni and continue my work in the Black/Queer community here at UF. Once I graduate, I plan to pursue a PhD degree in Environmental Science with a focus in Environmental Health. I also plan to be an active member of the community I settle in as a mentor and facilitator in the Black/Queer communities.
An important word of advice for LGBTQ+ Gators, do not be afraid to ask questions or step out of your comfort zone in any way; learning comes from new experiences and change leads to growth. I want to thank the University of Florida Association of LGBTQ+ Alumni again for this scholarship.”
“I am so grateful to have been awarded the LGBTQ+ Alumni scholarship. It means so much to feel the community supporting me and the work that I am doing. This scholarship shows that as queer and trans folks we exist on a united front together, uplifting one another and doing the work to advocate for those of more marginalized identities. Once I graduate, I plan to attend law school, where I will focus on civil law. I hope to do work within the realm of activism, engaging in a type of law known as movement law. Movement law focuses on garnering direction from the communities that one works with rather than imposing oneself as an agent of the law. I hope to do work impacting those within queer and trans communities and their intersecting marginalization.
My advice for other LGBTQ+ Gators would be to allow themselves room for compassion and rest. As folks of marginalized identities in a predominantly white, cis, heteronormative space like UF, we often feel immense pressure to constantly be performing in all aspects of life. This is exhausting and, eventually, leads to burnout. So, I would call on other folks of the community to allow themselves room to truly rest and relax so that they can continue doing the work, whatever that may look like for them.”
“It is such an honor to be selected to receive the first ever UF LGBTQ+ Alumni scholarship. Thank you so much to everyone from the UF LGBTQ+ Alumni Association who made this possible, I am extremely grateful. I would also like to thank my loving parents, family, and friends for being so supportive and pushing me to give it my all, I am so fortunate to have an amazing family like you all and I literally could not be here without you. Once I finish my undergraduate studies next year, I plan on pursuing graduate school for mechanical engineering. I would like to work in the automotive industry to follow my passion for cars, and hopefully adapt that into a career with electric vehicles.
My advice for my fellow LGBTQ+ Gators is that it is never too late to try something new. A quote that I’ve heard over the years is “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” While there may be people who started before you, you would be doing yourself a disservice to compare yourself to them. Find people who know what you’re going through; community is so powerful.“
“Receiving this scholarship is a tremendous honor and I am exceedingly grateful to the UF LGBTQ+ Alumni Association for their generosity. As an undergraduate student, I had always dreamed of being in a position where I had the ability to affect positive change in the world around me as a medical doctor and to be granted financial assistance to do so by those that support my vision is incredibly humbling. I am excited to use this scholarship to support my studies during medical school as I pursue research and volunteering engagements alongside my pre-clinical studies and clinical training. As a physician, I intend to pursue a residency in a specialty that facilitates my continued research and humanitarian work serving marginalized communities domestically and abroad.
My advice to LGBTQ+ gators would be to seek help when you are struggling and to offer help when you see others struggling. Volunteering is one excellent way to build a support network while giving back to your community. In addition, don’t be afraid to utilize resources that could help you when you’re struggling such as the many free services offered by UF including but not limited to the CWC, DRC, food pantry, career center, and more. In my experience, the UF community has been far more welcoming and supportive than I ever could have imagined.“