“I did not come out in a warm and welcoming place. I lost friends. Family members distanced themselves from me. And as a high school student I would go to school, and I would hear homophobic and transphobic insults from my peers, my teachers, and even the school principal. I was bullied; my friends were bullied. I did not see people like me on faculty, or among any of the adults in my life. It was hard for me to look forward to a future, let alone my every day.” – Hillary Gleason, Pride Foundation scholar

This past June, during our 2015 scholarship celebration in Montana, Hillary Gleason shared these reflections as she spoke of her journey coming out as a queer teenager on the east coast and how that shaped her current educational path. While Hillary faced many difficult obstacles that could have easily derailed her education dreams, she’s now pursuing her PhD in Clinical Psychology, along with a graduate certificate in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, at the University of Montana in Missoula.

“My research is activism, in and of itself, and to have it honored by Pride Foundation feels incredible,” shared Hillary. “It is more than a scholarship. It is recognition of everything I’ve done and continue to do. It is a chance to reflect on who I am and where I’m headed as a psychologist. It is the validation that 15 year-old me needed, and the coming out party that I never got. That’s what Pride Foundation does.”

Learn more about Hillary’s journey here.

Pride Foundation’s scholarship application closes on January 11th; please help us spread the word so that we can support more students like Hillary.

Kim Leighton is Pride Foundation’s Regional Development Organizer in Montana. Email Kim.

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