New Haven Pride Center David Knapp Scholarship Winners Announced!Published Sep 16, 2012
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In the second year of the David Knapp Scholarship awards, the New Haven Pride Center was able to offer two scholarships to two rising young leaders of the sexual minority community in Connecticut. The Center offered two awards in part because of the needs of the community and the financial growth of the scholarship fund. The scholarship quickly became an important component of Center’s activities during the year.
The winners of the 2012 scholarships include two out and dedicated young activists who have already made a profound impact for queer people in the state. The award winners include Amanda Mercado of Hartford who competed in the College Junior, Senior and Graduate group, and Megan Morgan of Thompson who competed in the College Freshman and Sophomore category. The activities of these two winners positioned them as clear winners who have been making a difference in the issues facing the LGBTQI community in Connecticut.
Amanda Mercado is a Hartford native and is wrapping up her Associates of Science degree in Social Services at Capital Community College in Hartford. She has been working as a volunteer at True Colors, Hartford Gay and Lesbian Health Collective, and in various Hispanic groups in Hartford, and is a co-founder of Naturelle Evolutions, which is the first GSA at CCC. With an activist’s spirit, Mercado wrote in her application letter:
“ln life, it sometimes takes a slight push from an experience or influence to give such strength to do of what is wished to be done. Many say the thought is what counts but with me, my thoughts are always followed by my actions. I will always keep in mind that within my choice of profession it can be quite the workout but I know that within my talents I can give much back to my community. My words will make a difference but my actions will make a permanent change.”
Mercado, 22, who came out four years ago, said that she will be entering the University of Saint Joseph Connecticut in West Hartford next semester to pursue a social work degree with a minor in psychology. She wants to become a licensed clinical social worker and devote her attention to making life better for the communities where she identifies.
From the quiet most northeastern point in Thompson, Connecticut, Megan Morgan has an impressive resume for an incoming freshman. She has been out since she was in the 8th grade and active throughout high school in the diversity club, True Colors, and participated in many of the activities within her school and community to challenge bullying and homophobia, in addition to championing AIDS awareness and people with disabilities. She is a member of the ACLU, a fire department volunteer, band secretary, and a softball manager.
Morgan said that she has had tremendous support from her family and many peers from school. However, her coming out was not without challenge. It can be difficult to come out in what has been characterized as a small, rural and conservative community. She described the experience in her application:
"LGBTQ issues are something that I’ve been addressing my entire life. I first came out as being a lesbian in the 8th grade. Before coming out, I spent several years being bullied by my peers for looking or dressing differently because I wore more masculine style clothing. I understand the peer pressure that is involved when a person doesn't appear to fit in to what's considered "normal" by society. It was important for me to talk to my teachers, closest friends, and family members about my decision to come out. I was fortunate that most of these people were very supportive of me. However there was one substitute staff member that told me that I have the devil inside me and that I need to go to church to heal myself. It took me awhile to forgive the people that made insensitive or ignorant comments to me but with the help of my many allies and my own perseverance I came out of it with a better understanding of who I am I what I want to do to help others in my situation."
Morgan, who will be a freshman at Quinebaug Valley Community College in Danielson, intends to pursue a nursing degree and continue her path in service to others.
The New Haven Pride Center congratulates the winners of the 2012 David Knapp Scholarship awards!
The 2012 David Knapp Scholarship Committee includes: Robin McHaelen, MSW; Caesar Storlazzi; Tony Ferraiolo, CPC; and Committee chair, NHPC board member John D. Allen, Ed.D.
The David Knapp Scholarship is named in honor of David Knapp, a longtime friend and supporter of the NHPC. His amazing list of accomplishments include: starting Connecticut chapters of GLSEN (the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network) and PFLAG (Parents & Friends of Lesbians and Gays), both of which remain active today; leading his church, the First Congregational Church of Guilford, in its efforts to become an open and affirming organization; past leadership of - and current membership in - Stonewall Speakers Bureau; and remaining at the forefront of the charge to overturn the Boy Scouts of America’s archaic policy on homosexuality. His contributions number so significantly that they are catalogued under the name "David Knapp Papers" at the Yale University Library. It is in the spirit of David Knapp’s selfless devotion to the regional LGBTQI community that the New Haven Pride Center is proud to offer our scholarship in his name.
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