As the 2013 Summer Fellowship Coordinator, I had the privilege of working with six inspiring LGBTQ college students through Pride Foundation’s Fellowship Program. The program matches college students with non-profit organizations in the Northwest and provides an opportunity for them to apply their academic skills to work experience while receiving mentorship from leaders in the social justice movement. In addition to the fellows having an enriching experience at their host organizations, we were able to build camaraderie as a group through regular meetings, discussions of their projects, and workshops presented on topics relevant to their studies and career goals.
I know this dynamic group of fellows contributed to their host organizations as much as they took away. Here is a peek into the work our fellows did this summer and a brief description of their awesomeness.
Danny Pena Avila is a graduate student at Seattle University’s School of Education in the Counseling Program. Danny spent the summer with Stonewall Youth where they utilized art to help the youth plan and organize their annual drag show/variety show. This pairing was a great fit as working with youth aligned with Danny’s professional goals of working with youth as a school counselor. “It’s been such an honor to be in an organization where I feel like my opinion matters as a two-spirit person. I also feel such joy to be able to come to work and be myself, express myself in a way that is accepted rather than misunderstood or judged,” said Danny.
Kawana Bullock is a self-described “artivist” and a studio arts graduate of Hamilton College. Kawana was matched with Western States Center in Portland, Oregon where they helped with the organization’s annual conference, AMP (Activist Mobilizing for Power). In their work this summer, Kawana felt affirmed and that, “As an educated, queer, masculine of center woman of color, it is amazing to feel like I don’t have to silence my experiences to affect change.”
Samone Derks is a graduate student at the University of Washington pursuing her masters in social work. This summer, she worked at the National Coalition Building Institute (NCBI) in Missoula, Montana working with youth at camp and was integral to launching the state’s first GSA network. Samone’s biggest take-away this summer “has been seeing how youth leadership can be incorporated in an organization.”
Kate Lanier-Moylan, a student at Wesleyan College in Connecticut, spent the summer in Alaska back in her hometown working at Anchorage Youth Development Coalition (AYDC). At AYDC, Kate contributed to the development and expansion of an online youth resource guide: “I am very happy and proud to say that my contributions to Anchorage Youth Central helped to shape it into a useful, reliable, and attractive resource for teens, parents, and counselors around Anchorage.”
Anthony Nget spent the summer in Seattle at Three Dollar Bill Cinema after graduating with a Film Degree from California State University Long Beach. He helped with film editing, event planning, and publicity for events. He also presented film workshops for LGBTQ youth at the Reel Queer Youth summer program in Seattle. Feeling empowered by the experience, Anthony said, “Networking with this community of queer filmmakers and queer film advocates has allowed me to find my place in this community.”
Jackie Sandmeyer is a senior at the University of Idaho and spent the summer working at The Bus Project in Portland, OR with their PolitiCorps Program. She developed community workshops that focused on understanding identity, power, and privilege. Jackie’s biggest takeaway from her fellowship is the value of intersectional organizing, which she felt the Bus Project exemplified: “I learned and grew more this summer than I have in any other fellowship program. I worked with a caring and passionate group of people that cared about my development and goals.”
As the Fellow placed at Pride Foundation this summer, my highlights included having the opportunity to work closely with each fellow and alongside the knowledgeable Pride Foundation staff. I’m sad the summer’s gone by so fast but, I’m excited for my next adventure, which includes going to Vietnam this fall to study abroad. When I return, I head back to Portland State University to finish my senior year.
Know someone who would make a great 2014 Summer Fellow? The application will be available early next year, visit our Fellowship page for more information. Be sure to also check out the work that our fellowship host organizations are doing in your community:
Anchorage Youth Development Coalition, Anchorage, AK (aydc.org)
National Building Coalition Institute of Missoula, Missoula, MT (ncbimissoula.org)
Stonewall Youth, Olympia, WA (stonewallyouth.org)
Three Dollar Bill Cinema, Seattle, WA (threedollarbillcinema.org)
Western States Center, Portland, OR (westernstatescenter.org)
The Bus Project, Portland, OR (busproject.org)
Jenny Lor is a Pride Foundation Scholar and our Fellowship Coordinator this summer. To learn more about our Fellowship Program, email Craig Williams, our Educational Programs Officer.