We have had an inspiring scholarship cycle this year—supporting many worthy, passionate, and amazing scholars that are making a difference in our community throughout the region. I am always in awe at the dedication and determination of these emerging leaders.
One of these leaders and scholarship recipients is Ruben Zecena. Originally born in El Salvador, Ruben is a gay Latino man who graduated from Pasco High School and received his Associates in Liberal Arts at Columbia Basin College (CBC).
Now in his junior year at Washington State University (WSU) in Pullman, WA, Ruben is working towards his Bachelors with a major in English Teaching and a minor in Queer Studies. His goal is to become a teacher in the Tri-Cities area in Eastern Washington, which is his home.
While at CBC, Ruben found that many of his friends at school felt alone and isolated. Ruben decided to start a GSA club, Born This Way Alliance, in order to bring together the community and create a sense of belonging. The club continues to be active and strong to this day. In fact in May, Born This Way Alliance held their second prom, the only LGBTQ prom in the Tri-Cities area.
Ruben has also been very active with the LGBTQ community at WSU. As the Awareness Programming Chair for the Gender and Sexuality Committee, he creates programs related to bringing awareness to LGBTQ issues on campus; and, as a member of V-Day, he acted in the play “A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, and A Prayer,” which raised funds for non-profit organizations dedicated to supporting victims and survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
When he graduates from WSU in May of 2016 with his English teaching major and Queer Studies minor, Ruben plans to provide a diverse education that will challenge, inspire, and empower his students. He wants to teach about social inequalities through literature and “as a gay Latino, I will teach about how race intersects with sexuality and gender because these are areas that I am interested in and affected by,” says Ruben.
Ruben also plans to become an advisor to a GSA because this is something he is extremely passionate about. “I am aware of how mentorship empowers future LGBTQ leaders,” he explained.
“Receiving a Pride Foundation scholarship shows me that the LGBTQ community believes in me and cares about me,” says Ruben. “Pride Foundation is a community of strong leaders who are helping students become leaders and because of this, I plan to become a leader and do what you have done for me—help LGBTQ people become leaders and create change.”
Ruben spoke at this year’s scholarship celebration. He was an inspiring speaker and I know that he is going to become an amazing teacher who will not only have a great impact on our youth, but our entire community as well. I look forward to seeing where the future takes him!
Gunner Scott is Pride Foundation’s Director of Programs. Email Gunner.