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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA Wildcat Pride Scholarship makes it rain-bow

Zi Yang Lai

Melinda Burke, president of the Alumni Association, explains the details of the Wildcat Pride Scholarship to a reporter. The Wildcat Pride Scholarship is the first scholarship in UA history to be offered exclusively to LGBTQA undergraduate students.

For the first time in its history, the UA is offering a scholarship specifically designed for students in the LGBTQA community.

“It’s a brand new scholarship. It’s one donor right now, and the hope is, obviously, that we grow it,” said Melinda Burke, president of the University of Arizona Alumni Association.

The sole donor is UA alumna Stacie Hudgens, a graduate of the class of 1997, and an owner and managing partner of the pharmaceutical firm Clinical Outcomes Solutions. Hudgens came to the alumni association wanting to make a difference on campus by alleviating the financial need of LGBTQA students. 

Her efforts led to the creation of the Wildcat Pride Scholarship.

The alumni association, which gives out over a million dollars in scholarships yearly, has found a reliable donor in Hudgens. 

“She is committed to continue to fund this scholarship,” Burke said. “She’s also committed to finding other like-minded individuals to help her build it.”

Burke, who has been with the alumni association since 2011, said she had no issue approving this scholarship. 

“The biggest challenge is just getting the word out and letting eligible students know that it exists,” Burke said.

Even though the scholarship application is listed for members of the LGBTQA community, the application is open to LGBTQA allies as well. Allies are those who do not identify as LGBTQA but work closely within the community to make a difference.

Applications for the 2015-2016 school year are due by Oct. 9. Several students will be awarded scholarships, and the final amount of each will be determined by individual need. Students selected to receive the scholarship will have demonstrated academic excellence, leadership and service.

A large component of the scholarship application is an essay, wherein applicants are asked to talk about why they made the decision to come to the UA and what it means to be a part of the LGBTQ community, either as a member or as an advocate. Applicants are encouraged to open up and get personal. 

Katrina Hermanson, a junior studying gender and women’s studies and Speak Out representative for Pride Alliance, said she plans to apply for the scholarship herself. 

“There’s an issue of people coming out in college … and being disenfranchised by their families and a lot of the time not having the access to the funding of their parents that they would have before coming out,” Hermanson said.

The Wildcat Pride Scholarship could work to attract a more diverse group of students to the UA campus in coming years. Currently, the only Arizona college listed by Campus Pride Index—a national nonprofit that ranks U.S. colleges and universities based on friendliness to the LGBTQA community—is Northern Arizona University.

Yet, NAU is behind the UA when it comes to providing scholarships to its LGBTQA students. A fund for an LGBTQA scholarship was opened by NAU in Jan. 2014, but the fund has since only accumulated $5,336.95 and is unable to accept applications. 

Arizona State University does not provide a scholarship solely for its LGBTQA students.

Follow Michelle Jaquette on Twitter.

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