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GCEF presents 2022 scholarships


The Gay Community Endowment Fund recently awarded scholarships to five students who have positively impacted the LGBTQ+ community. In total, the GCEF Scholarship Fund awarded $8,500 this year to help local students achieve their higher education goals, bringing the fund's cumulative scholarship distributions to more than $45,000 since its first awards in 2016.

Congratulations to this year's winners:

Sam Caley smiling in front of a colorful mural on a brick wall
Sam Caley

Sam Caley is a senior at The College of Wooster, where they are a double major in theater and dance and communication studies. They currently work as an intern in the Sexuality & Gender Inclusion office of the Center for Diversity & Inclusion. As a senior thesis project, Sam plans to interview transgender professionals about their experiences in the theater industry and write an original performance piece based on the interviews. By receiving a GCEF scholarship, Sam will be able to continue giving back to the LGBTQ+ community through their academic and community-based work.

Hannah Reikowsky, Sam's supervisor at the Center for Diversity & Inclusion, recommended Sam for the scholarship. She said, "Having supervised Sam, I have no doubt that they will be able to achieve wonderful things and improve the experience of stigmatized groups moving forward should financial barriers not prevent them from finishing their college experience and doing so."

Brooklynn Campbell smiling in front of a white wall
Brooklynn Campbell

Brooklynn Campbell is a second-year recipient of the GCEF Scholarship Fund. They are studying biochemistry and American Sign Language at the University of Akron. Brooklyn became president of the organization Pride in STEMM in August 2022. Some of their accomplishments as part of the group include implementing a simplified name change process, ensuring the availability of gender-neutral bathrooms across the campus, and pushing the university to hire a faculty member to serve LGBTQ+ students.

"Brooklynn has been actively engaged in the LGBTQ+ community since the start of their journey on campus. It can be intimidating when you're new to a community to put yourself out there and lead. Brooklynn, however, jumped in with both feet," wrote Kaitlyn Stembridge, an advisor to Pride in STEMM, about Brooklynn's leadership.

Rachel LaFlame is a graduate student at Kent State University pursuing a Master of Public Health degree. She previously served as a graduate assistant at the LGBTQ+ Center on campus, where she assisted in philanthropic efforts, managed marketing initiatives, oversaw the center's interns, and presented workshops to the campus community. She now works as a health care administrator at a local hospital.

After graduating with a Master of Public Health degree in spring of 2023, Rachel plans to work in health policy to fight against anti-LGBTQ+ health legislation. She wrote in her application, "As a future public health professional and policymaker, I am passionate about advocating and working to improve LGBTQ+ health and ensuring that health providers and legislatures are not able to discriminate."

Blake Nicholas smiles while sitting at a table with a bowl of food
Blake Nicholas

Blake Nicholas is a freshman at the Cleveland Institute of Art, where he studies illustration with an emphasis on character design, modeling and storyboarding. As an openly transgender and bisexual man, Blake was a founding member of the Gay Straight Alliance organization at Chippewa High School. He is studying art in the hopes of increasing representation for LGBTQ+ youth in mass media.

"Blake needs art and the art world needs Blake. His ceiling is limitless, but any scholarship will definitely help with his future goals," wrote Josh Strauss, Blake's high school art teacher.

Shawn Schreckengost smiles in front of a building with white pillars
Shawn Schreckengost Jr.

Shawn Schreckengost Jr. is a senior at Kent State University, where he studies public health and economics. This is the third year he has received a scholarship from the GCEF Scholarship Fund. Shawn recently worked on the Greater Akron LGBTQ+ Community Needs Assessment and also volunteers for the Akron Pride Festival. During the summer of 2022, Shawn participated in Carnegie Mellon's Public Policy and International Affairs Institute, where he took courses on various policy issues and worked on evidence-based solutions. As the president of the Public Health Student Alliance, Shawn has refined his leadership skills and attended workshops on white allyship and LGBTQ+ advocacy.

"Through Shawn's leadership with the Akron Pride Volunteering Committee and as an intern with the Kent State LGBTQ+ Student Center, he has demonstrated his commitment to the LGBTQ+ community," wrote Mary Scott Toepfer, M.Ed., an academic advisor in the College of Public Health, in a recommendation letter.

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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