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GCEF presents 2020 scholarships

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The Gay Community Endowment Fund recently awarded scholarships to four students who have positively impacted the LGBTQ+ community. In total, the GCEF Scholarship Fund awarded $8,000 this year to help local students achieve their higher education goals, bringing the fund's cumulative scholarship distributions to nearly $30,000 since its first awards in 2016.

Congratulations to this year's winners:

May Cheline
May Cheline

May Cheline is a freshman at Kent State University, where she studies neuroscience and chemistry. May plans to become a neuropharmacologist and study the chemical interactions between neurons to improve scientists' understanding of drug addiction, neurodegenerative diseases and mental illness. May is also involved in Kent State's LGBTQ+ Center and has volunteered at two LGBTQ+ festivals.

"The main discrepancy among modern critics of the LGBTQ+ community is a lack of intervention from the scientific community. Because I am an individual who strongly identifies within both communities, I feel obliged to advocate the legitimacy of all sexualities," May said.

Anna Brown is a sophomore at Kent State University, Stark Campus, where they study theater, LGBTQ+ studies, and vocal performance. Anna is an active volunteer at New Vision United Church of Christ in Canton and participates in outreach programs to address food insecurity and inclusion for the LGBTQ+ community. Anna is also working with New Vision UCC to organize a pride festival in Canton and strengthen the network of LGBTQ+ institutions throughout Stark County. Anna is a member of PRIDE! Kent, an activism organization for Kent State University's LGBTQ+ and ally community.

"My career plans are to become a voice actor, but I, more than anything, want to become a VOICE," Anna wrote in their scholarship application. "I grew up in a time that is heralded as a modern era of inclusion, but the more I look around, the more I see that can be fixed."

Shawn Schreckengost
Shawn Schreckengost Jr.

Shawn Schreckengost Jr. is a sophomore at Kent State University, where he studies business management. Shawn has been a strong advocate for the LGBTQ+ community from a young age, including serving as the youth voice representative on the board of the Northeast Ohio chapter of GLSEN. Shawn also served on the Akron Pride Festival planning committee as a volunteer coordinator and was recently selected to lead its Green Team to make the festival more environmentally friendly. For the last three years, Shawn has interned at Kent State University's LGBTQ+ Center, where he assists with the center's fundraising and marketing initiatives, including those for the LGBTQ Emergency Fund and annual Rainbow Run.

"By taking part in pivotal roles that helped create an impact on my community, it made me realize that although my community in Northeast Ohio has made huge strides in acceptance, there is still much work to be done," Shawn said. "Because of this, I want to continue this same work in the LGBTQ+ community. This scholarship (will) help me do just that."

Renuka Subba
Renuka Subba

Renuka Subba is a post-graduate nursing student at the University of Akron. Renuka serves as a medical interpreter at Akron Children's Hospital, where she works closely with LGBTQ+ patients of a variety of different cultures, including those in the Bhutanese community, who often face rejection and discrimination. Renuka's own family came to the United States as Bhutanese refugees, giving her a unique perspective and desire to serve Akron's large immigrant community. Renuka's goal is to become a nurse practitioner and work in an adolescent gender clinic, where she can advocate for LGBTQ+ youth and help to educate their families.

"Especially in the Bhutanese community, I have seen so many teenagers who are gay and lesbian but never admitted it to their family and friends for fear of being rejected and punished," Renuka said. "To find someone who can understand both cultures and act as a bridge between the two communities to narrow the distance between them is fundamental."

GCEF is proud to support all four of these accomplished students in their educational journeys. Congratulations!

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. Make a gift to support future scholarships.

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