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2023 GCEF Scholarship Fund recipients advocate for LGBTQ+ youth on and off campus


In 2023, the Gay Community Endowment Fund awarded $10,500 in scholarships to seven students who have positively impacted the LGBTQ+ community. In total, the GCEF Scholarship Fund has awarded more than $50,000 since its first awards in 2016 to help local students achieve their higher education goals.

We're highlighting the following 2023 scholarship recipients for their contributions to the LGBTQ+ community:

Sam Caley holding a pride flag.
Sam Caley

Sam Caley graduated from The College of Wooster in December 2023, where they received a double degree in theater and dance and communication studies. Caley received two scholarships from the GCEF Scholarship Fund, one in 2022 and another in 2023. During their time at The College of Wooster, Caley worked as a Sexuality & Gender Inclusion intern in the Center for Diversity & Inclusion. This role helped Caley discover a passion for advocacy work. Caley completed a senior thesis project, in which they researched the experiences of transgender individuals in the professional theater industry.

"The GCEF scholarships that I received allowed me to graduate without taking out any student loans, which was a huge relief and gave me the freedom to pursue academics and extracurriculars throughout my senior year without worrying about finances," said Caley.

A smiling student
Brooklynn Campbell

Brooklynn Campbell is a three-time scholarship recipient from the GCEF Scholarship Fund. They will graduate from the University of Akron with a bachelor's degree in biochemistry in May 2024. They also studied American Sign Language.

Campbell's commitment to the LGBTQ+ community while at the University of Akron is best illustrated by their time as a member of the organization Pride in STEMM. As part of the organization, Campbell worked with the university to better support queer students. Some of their accomplishments include implementing a streamlined process for students to change their names and increasing the visibility of gender neutral bathrooms throughout campus.

"Receiving the GCEF Scholarship has allowed me the financial freedom to focus on school and making an impact on campus through leadership in various campus organizations. It has been great to know that I have the support of the Akron queer community behind me. As someone who moved to Akron for school, but who now considers it home, it means a lot to me to have had that support throughout the years," said Campbell.

Aiden Zapisek pictured on a school campus.
Aiden Zapisek

Aiden Zapisek is a first-time recipient of a GCEF scholarship. They began studying at Kent State University in 2023, but Zapisek's leadership in the LGBTQ+ community dates back to their time as a student at Revere High School. Zapisek led a group of students to advocate for four gender neutral bathrooms at the high school. They also helped bring Pride Week to Revere Schools.

Part of the reason Zapisek is attending Kent State University is to continue "making a difference for those around me, who share the same struggles as myself." They also utilize the LGBTQ+ Student Center. Zapisek explained the impact the scholarship has made on their education, saying, "Receiving the GCEF Scholarship has helped me so much because I have been able to focus on my studies, social life and mental health with much less financial worry than I had expected. I am very appreciative to the GCEF board for selecting me as a winner."

Rainbow torch graphic

About the GCEF Scholarship Fund

The GCEF Scholarship Fund awards postsecondary scholarships to LGBTQ+ and allied students who live in the geographic area served by GCEF and participate in initiatives that benefit the local LGBTQ+ community. Please consider investing in the next generation of LGBTQ+ students and allies by making a gift to support future scholarships.

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