Introducing the 2007 PFLAG Scholars!

In its fourth year, the PFLAG National Scholarship Program has awarded more than $100,000 in scholarships to meritorious students. Since its inception, and with the help of our generous sponsors and members, PFLAG scholarships have helped 107 young people achieve their dreams of higher education.

This year PFLAG is proud to name 30 new PFLAG National Scholars. These future leaders represent some of the best and the brightest advocates for equality. Selected from a pool of applicants from across the country, we are pleased to share some of their accomplishments with you.

Sam Thoron, chair of the Scholarship Advisory Committee (SAC), worked with the 13 SAC members and eight higher education professionals to review the finalists and ultimately name the recipients of the awards.

The 2007 PFLAG National Scholarship Program was made possible by several generous donations. We appreciate all donations, and we are pleased to highlight a few of the scholarship funders. The Palmer B. Carson Trust established the scholarship program with a substantial bequest from Mr. Carson’s estate. In 2004, the Dow Chemical Company Foundation provided $10,000 in scholarship funding and since 2006, the Gay, Lesbian and Allies at Dow Employee Network (GLAD) initiated fundraising drives to increase support to the scholarships and since that time have raised more than $25,000. We received addition funding from the Jeff Iorilla and Roel Hinojosa Scholarship. The New York Gay Football League “Gay Superbowl 7” contributed $9,500 this year.

In December 2007, we announced the details of the 2008 National Scholarship program. If you belong to an employees’ group, union, or any other organization and feel that your group or company would be interested in donating to PFLAG’s scholarship fund, please contact Christopher Vance in our Development Department at or (202) 467-8180 extension 231. Individual donations to support PFLAG’s general programming including the scholarships program, our safe schools work, or other PFLAG programs may be mailed in the enclosed envelope.

Congratulations to all of the 2007 winners!

Cory Bates
$1000 Scholarship for Science
Hometown: Alexander, AR
School: University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Being a gay youth in a small Southern town can be challenging, and Cory’s life has not been easy. However, through a number of family upheavals including divorce, drug addiction, and abuse for being gay, he has remained a strong and committed student. With little to no emotional or financial support from his family, Cory chose to focus on achieving his academic goals and serving his community. “The constant Southern ridicule put a massive stress on my life, but I maintained composure and a high grade point average.” Cory’s future career goal is to become an orthodontist and serve as a role model for GLBT youth.

Julian Brainard-Reichwein
$1000 Regional Scholarship
Hometown: Fredericktown, OH
School: Antioch College
Julian’s community service has included tutoring, serving as a camp counselor, and working on anti-hunger projects. He has also excelled academically and looks forward to working as a psychologist. An activist in the GLBT community, Julian brought a GSA to his high school. Meeting resistance from his principal, he joined the Kenyon College GSA and educated his high school through National Coming Out Day and National Transgender Day of Awareness events. As an openly transgender person, Julian has served as a role model for diversity, acceptance and public service in his community. “I will always be involved in activism for some cause or another because I hate sitting around and doing nothing when I could be changing the world.”

Meagan Colpitts
$2500 GLAD Scholarship
Hometown: Dufferin Parish, New Brunswick
School: Mount Allison Univ.
Meagan has worked on a number of community healthcare projects—from raising money and awareness for the Kidney Foundation, to blood drives, to working with the Cancer Society. She started a project at her high school collecting 700 new teddy bears to distribute to children at the local hospital. Meagan’s career plans include working as an emergency room physician, and possibly with Doctors Without Borders. While struggling with a very unsupportive mother, Meagan has been able to impact positive change in her school. Along with two friends, Megan created a video about bullying that has been used in her school and other schools to educate students about harassment.

Elizabeth Crean
$1000 Regional Scholarship
Hometown: Madison, WI
School: Lawrence University
Coming out in high school gave Elizabeth, known as Ellie, a chance to be active and involved in her community in a way she had never been before. Ellie is a peer educator teaching part of the 9th grade health curriculum which specifically addresses harassment of GLBT youth. “I believe the only way we can rid the world of hatred and discrimination is through education,” she said. Ellie is also a part of a theater troupe that performs skits about being GLBT for family, friends and area schools. She also works regularly with a TopTEN (Teen Education Network), an GLBT youth group which presents workshops to other teens on a variety of issues impacting gay and transgender youth.

Andrew Davis
$2500 GLAD Scholarship
Hometown: Springfield, IL
School: So. Illinois University
Andrew, who goes by Drew, saw starting a GSA at his school not only as a safe place for GLBT youth to get support, but also as a place to develop community service projects. The first project Drew’s GSA took on was to adopt a street—which became an award winning clean street. He is a “Big Brother” and a volunteer at his church. He sponsors a child in Kenya with whom he regularly exchanges letters. While extending himself to others, Drew himself has little family to speak of. Having been abused by his parents, Drew lived in a series of foster care homes until his grandmother opened her home to him. “I figured that if I don’t stand up to the harassment it just sends a message that it’s OK to pick on the gay kids.”

Maryann Hetherman
$1000 Regional Scholarship
Hometown: Charlton, MA
School: University of Massachusetts, Amherst
As president of both her school GSA and Honor Society, Maryann excels at leadership. A compelling speaker, she was invited to present at a conference organized by a Harvard professor after he attended a GSA meeting where she spoke. At the conference, she spoke about the work of her GSA and her life experience as an openly GLBT youth. “I have dealt with the struggles of adversity, harassment, and homophobia, but fighting these struggles has helped me become the strong, confident, individual I am today,” she said. Maryann has been involved with a number of community service projects including food and clothing drives, Toys for Tots, and painting homes of elderly residents.

Sierra Jansen
$1000 Regional Scholarship
Hometown: Pukalani, HI
School: Georgetown University
Fluent in Dutch and English, conversant in French and Spanish, and is studying Japanese and Hawaiian, Sierra has lived and traveled all over the world. As the daughter of lesbian moms (and the niece of gay uncles), Sierra also speaks across sexual diversity lines and feels comfortable in all worlds. A 2006 National Merit Commended Scholar, Sierra organized an alternative prom for persons with disabilities and served as the class president her junior and senior years of high school. She balances athletics, theater, and tutoring and mentoring projects for special needs students. The lessons she has learned from her unique family have given her an opportunity to flourish as a writer, leader and mentor.

Jake Joseph
$1000 Regional Scholarship
Hometown: Fort Collins, CO
School: Grinnell College
Within a month of arriving at high school, Jake was the head of the GSA. The group helped to get Safe Zone posters in every classroom, and worked with teachers to stay alert for “Chose a Different Adjective” opportunities. They also formed a council with four other area high schools to sponsor coordinated events. As a community activist he is the youth representative on the board of the Plymouth United Church of Christ Congregational and served on the Board of Directors for his local gay community center. “I think of being gay as a piece of the puzzle that makes up who I am,” he says. “I don’t let people define me by it, nor do I allow them to discount it.”

Cory Koscielniak
$2500 Community Involvement
Hometown: St. Louis, MO
School: Macalester College
Cory takes leadership seriously. As the president of the student body he worked to raise money for Muscular Dystrophy and wrote a monthly column in the school newspaper to inform students about upcoming activities and how they could participate. As treasurer of his school’s Thespian Troup, Cory managed workshops for children and donated the proceeds to charity. Cory has been a student leader for GLSEN, both attending and leading workshops. “To overcome this marginalization, I decided to claim my own education – one that included homosexuality as both fact and ¬inspiration.”

Emma McKeon
$1000 Scholarship for Students in GLBT Families
Hometown: Montclair, NJ
School: Kean University
As the daughter of lesbian moms and a gay dad, Emma knew that her family was unconventional, but what she felt was unconditional love, support and strength. “I wanted others to see my parents for who they were as individuals and not for who they were attracted to,” she said. This conviction led Emma to involvement in groups like Lambda Families. Emma also spent four years as a field hockey coach—falling in love both with the sport and the teaching, something she hopes to continue in the future. As a strong student with a learning disability who maintained a 4.0 all through high school, Emma knows how to work hard and she wants to share that determination with other students.

Tony Ray Meyer
$2500 Esera Tuaolo Athletics Scholarship
Hometown: Mission Viejo, CA
School: Harvard University
As a student and as a community activist, Tony set high goals and accomplished them. As valedictorian, he showed what he could accomplish academically. He was the leader in the GSA Network and co-founder of his high school GSA in conservative Orange County, CA. Tony helped unite the GSA, the Model United Nations Club, the Jewish Cultural Club, and the Student Ministries (a Christian student club) in two projects, the AIDS Awareness Days and a Save Darfur Campaign. In order to take his message to as many people as possible Tony is a student of languages, he speaks fluent French, intermediate German, Italian and Russian and has a self-described “linguistic green thumb” in Spanish, Latin and Chinese.

Grant Miller
$1000 Scholarship for Liberal Arts
Hometown: Portland, OR
School: Vassar College
Grant is an accomplished thespian, a critical thinker, and—according to his family—a “wise old soul.” As an intern in a professional theater company, Grant has had the opportunity to mentor and teach younger students. He has also been the face of Oregon Easter Seals after defying doctors’ early warnings that he would not live an independent life. While his disability does not define him, nor does he feel it is something he needs to “overcome,” it has provided Grant an opportunity to delve deeper into his academic learning. “Although my academic pursuits are extremely important to me, I know that as a queer individual I must remain a student of my own identity and respect the identity of others.”

Alex Morse
$2500 Scholarship for GLBT Advocacy
Hometown: Westfield, MA
School: Brown University
Alex is an activist’s activist. He has been part of a group of peer-educators that have taught HIV/AIDS prevention, contraception, healthy relationships and violence prevention. As a member of a statewide teen group called Teens Leading the Way, Alex has pressed for legislation that would establish drop-in health centers for youth. After coming out when a sophomore, Alex formed a GSA at his high school which became one of the largest and most active organizations on campus. Even more hopeful has been the real change in climate at the school. Alex has just begun his advocacy work, and plans to take his passion for social justice, education and change with him wherever he goes.

Joseph Nelson
$1000 Regional Scholarship
Hometown: Raleigh, NC
School: University of Virginia
Joseph is a trailblazer. He took a small North Carolina high school and changed the way it thought about GLBT people. Wanting to start a GSA and meeting with skepticism from his vice principal, Joseph set out to show that he did have community as well as faculty support for a GSA. “My largest accomplishment so far in life is spreading acceptance, whether for being gay, for being straight, or for just wanting to be a guy in eyeliner”. Joseph’s GSA is a 70-person strong club that provides support, advocacy and community service opportunities for members. Joseph maintained a first-place rank in his grade while pursuing interests in music, theater and creative writing.

Kylie J. Nicholson
$1000 Regional Scholarship
Hometown: North Huntington, PA
School: Slippery Rock University
Coming to terms with her father’s coming out and the break up of her parent marriage was not easy for Kylie. There were a few years of unhappiness and worry in her life, but Kylie’s passion for dance helped her through those difficult years. However, meeting her father’s partner’s children and becoming part of a larger family circle, Kylie was able to find the strength and happiness she needed. It has also given her a voice to speak out as an advocate for acceptance for GLBT families like hers. Kylie strives to educate a variety of audiences about GLBT family issues. “Every chance I have, I tell my story, always hoping to change someone’s opinion on gay families.”

Joshua Parel
$1000 Regional Scholarship
Hometown: Olney, MD
School: Johnson & Wales
Joshua has been an out and active leader of his high school GSA. Not only has Joshua been living as an openly gay person in his community, but has also incorporated GLBT issues into his academic work by writing papers on such topics as gays in the military and on the nature vs. nurture debate. Joshua is an active member of his religious community and has had a number of leadership positions at his synagogue and in the youth group. Describing his association with the Rainbow Youth Alliance of his local PFLAG Chapter, Josh says “Marching with PFLAG is an empowering experience as a gay teen.” Josh is attending culinary school had hope to work as a chef someday.

Doug Williams
$1000 Scholarship for Science
Hometown: Novato, CA
School: University of California at Berkeley
Coming out in high school, Doug found that the climate of his school needed change. He joined the GSA and was given the assignment of organizing the Day of Silence. The event has grown in participation to over 350 students and staff. Doug also started volunteering at SPECTRUM, the local GLBT community center organizing their youth group and participating in their Speakers’ Bureau. Doug has spoken to over 30 classes and has found the experience both influential and self-fulfilling. “Though my high school journey is coming to an end, my continued promotion of gay rights is far from over.”

Michael Waak
$2500 Scholarship for GLBT Leadership
Hometown: Green Bay, WI
School: University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point
As an Eagle Scout, Michael attained the highest rank given in scouting. However, he is no longer a welcome member of the Boy Scouts. While serving as a camp counselor, Michael was fired simply because of who he is. “In July 2006, I lost my job for being [gay]... When I came out during summer camp, I was asked to leave.” He is now the state director for Wisconsin for Scouting for All. Michael is also an active member of his high school GSA and has written a series of articles for his high school newspaper on issues that affect the GLBT community. He was an active volunteer with FAIR Wisconsin in their fight to stop an anti-marriage equality ballot amendment.


>>Congratulations to all of our 2008 Scholars! Visit here to see othe winners for this year!

>>Return to 2008 Winter PFLAGPole Main Menu.