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PFLAG San Diego presents nine scholarship awards to local students

SAN DIEGO -- Nine local students were recognized Monday night at PFLAG San Diego's largest scholarship awards ceremony since the program began 15 years ago. Over 50 people attended the ceremony, held in a social hall at First United Methodist Church in Mission Valley.

After welcoming attendees to the event, Oliva Dorman, chair of PFLAG San Diego's Scholarship Committee, told the crowd that the event is organized each year to recognize the outstanding students in the LGBT community.

"We want to encourage them to continue with their education and promote a positive image of our community," said Dorman, a retired schoolteacher.

PFLAG's scholarship program includes nine different awards, three of which were new this year. PFLAG supporters Donna and Jim Bowersox provided a contribution this year to fund two "We Believe In You" scholarships, which are intended for students pursuing a vocational, trade, or other non-traditional higher education opportunity.

The Richard Geyser Memorial Ethics Scholarship was also added to the menu of awards this year, which is administered through the San Diego Human Dignity Foundation and has additional eligibility requirements.

Of the awards, three were given to graduating high school seniors, three to current undergraduate students, three to current graduate students, and one re-entry student.

One of the requirements to win a scholarship from PFLAG San Diego is to be present at the scholarship awards ceremony, so all nine recipients were present, and were asked to read portions of their nomination essay.

Zachary Christy, who is receiving his BA in Music Education from Point Loma Nazarene University this May, and will pursue a teaching credential in the fall, was a strong advocate for LGBT awareness on the particularly conservative campus. While addressing the crowd at the scholarship ceremony, Christy said that his love of music helped him share his passion for LGBT equality.

"Music ignores sexuality and gender, and only focuses on the art," Christy said.

The full list of scholarship recipients is:

Mary Wagner Memorial Scholarship:
Zachary Christy
Point Loma Nazarene University

John Bessemer Memorial Scholarship:
Samantha Ezell
Mira Costa Community College

Rob Benzon Memorial Scholarship:
Ryan Cardinale
San Diego State University

Stephen G. Bowersox Memorial Scholarship:
Dominic Riolo
University City High School

John McCusker Memorial Scholarship:
Danielle "DB" Bauer
San Diego State University

San Diego Chapter of Raytheon GLBTA STEM Scholarship:
Olivia Ottone
Carlsbad High School

Richard Geyser Memorial Ethics Scholarship:
Gibran Guido
San Diego State University

We Believe In You Scholarships:
Derrek Steele
Palomar High School

Dairrick Hodges
Center's Youth Housing/Madison High School

For more information about PFLAG San Diego's scholarship program, click HERE.