Local LGBTQ students receive scholarships

Scholarship recipient McKenna Roudebush.

San Diego Human Dignity Foundation (SDHDF) is partnering with PFLAG San Diego County to recognize nine deserving LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, and Asexual) students from around San Diego County for their exemplary academic achievements and leadership vision at the 2016 Launching Leaders Scholarship Awards Luncheon, 1:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, May 13 at the Corky McMillin Companies Event Center at Liberty Station.

Three scholarship recipients had direct connections to our readership area. They were Riley Gibson of Palomar College, Jairo Leno of Cal State San Marcos and McKenna Roudebush of Rancho Buena Vista High School. Also awarded scholarships were Theodore “Teddy” Bruni (SDSU), Humberto Castorena (Olympian High School), Jacob Garrett (USD), Brandon Ishikata (SDSU), Amanda Matheson (Canyon Crest Academy) and Antonio Mendivil (San Diego City College).

Funders of the scholarships include SDHDF, PFLAG San Diego County, The Rob Benzon Foundation as well as families and private donors. Scholarship criteria range from teaching-focused goals to ethics and individual triumphs in overcoming obstacles to scholastic excellence.

McKenna Roudebush, Grade 12

Rancho Buena Vista High School

PFLAG General Scholarship recipient

From Roudebush’s essay:

“High school has been an incredibly influential time of self-discovery for me. As I was beginning to become more involved in feminism, I was also coming to terms with my own sexuality, and as a result I became increasingly aware of how exclusion continues to exist in social activism.

I then decided that I wanted to do something on campus for other girls who were interested in feminism but felt that their voices may not be heard. Leading this organization, I have held open-mindedness in the highest regard; it is my belief that to be a good leader, one must always approach situations holistically.

“What has inspired me the most about this club and the students involved in it is the diversity of experiences and the respect shown for those experiences. We have a wide variety of members, coming from a plethora of backgrounds, and the uniting factor is a desire to learn.

“Hearing the perspectives of other students has allowed me to become a more holistic individual, and this is the most important lesson I have learned from running the Feminist Student Alliance.”

Riley Gibson, Third Year

Palomar Community College

Rob Benzon Memorial Scholarship recipient

Scholarship recipient Riley Gibson.

Scholarship recipient Riley Gibson.

From Gibson’s scholarship essay:

“After losing everything in my life that I thought I could never live without and going through the painful mourning process, living in extreme poverty, and walking among those who grew up with absolutely nothing has completely changed my worldview.

I have seen the best of San Diego and I have seen the absolute worst. Despite living in San Diego all my life, there were so many places that I had never seen before. I was homeless and I had nothing, but things were different everything had a new flavor to it.

“I had started working at San Diego Pride in their Marketing & Communications department as a full time volunteer, and they gave me the gift of a bus pass. With this bus pass, I now had the freedom to do what I wanted, when I wanted. And that’s exactly what I did.

“Next thing I knew, I was doing my best to help organizing and attend every event surrounding Pride and transgender issues in Hillcrest possible. I had nothing better to do and no one wanted to hire me, so why not?

It felt like I was actually doing something with my life, unlike working at a deadend retail job. For the first time in my life I felt happy and fulfilled, even in the absence of everything I once had.

“Occasionally reality would settle in and my stomach would sink upon realizing that I didn’t know where I’d be sleeping the next week, but my overall positive demeanor and drive to continue helping kept me going in spite of that. I found my home in grassroots and community organizing.”

Jairo Leon, Graduate Student

Cal State San Marcos / UCLA

General PFLAG Scholarship recipient 

Scholarship recipient Jairo Leon.

Scholarship recipient Jairo Leon.

From Leon’s essay:

“I now aim to earn a Master’s in Student Affairs from UCLA because as a mission-oriented individual, I am dedicated to creating opportunities for underserved college students to build in capacity, resources, and knowledge.

“After working as a Peer Educator, I became particularly drawn to the work of multicultural centers in this field. These centers can uniquely address student needs, and advance student development, given their continuous and varied engagement with them.

“Indeed, the combination of co-curricular learning, leadership building, and community outreach in these student centers speaks to my own strengths and values. These programs ignite and nourish essential self and societal exploration, while also increasing retention and graduation rates, as they elevate the overall student experience.”

Event Calendar Details

Second Annual Launching Leaders PFLAG Scholarship Awards Luncheon

Friday, May 13, 2016

11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

McMillin Event Center at Liberty Station

2875 Dewey Road, San Diego, Calif. 92106

Tickets $60 each (includes self-parking)



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