Twelve scholars from throughout California split a total of $15,000 in scholarships given by the Latino Equality Alliance (LEA) at the 2023 LGBTQ Youth College Scholarship Award Ceremony Saturday in Bellflower
The three-hour-long event at the South East LA city’s Mayne Event Center served as an opportunity to highlight the stories of each recipient and thank community sponsors who have supported the award over the years.
“This is going to be life changing for all of us, because education is tied to so many aspects of our livelihoods,” said Brianna Flores, a UCLA Psychobiology student and award recipient. “Community coming together to support one another through scholarships like this are essential, and I plan to give back to my community once I graduate.”
Besides Flores, this year’s scholarship recipients were Jose Sanchez (Biology), Amber Olmos (School Counseling), Ash Aylin Contreras (Biology), Rene Jimenez (Early Childhood Education), Dayanara Urbina (Political Science), Ever Diaz-Ramos (Aerospace Engineering), Miriam Lopez-Hernandez (Chicanx Studies), Samantha Garcias (Chicanx Latinx Studies), Bri Proud (Industrial Design), Rocio Hernandez (Computer Science) and Kevin Palomo (Anthropology).
Since 2018, LEA has awarded over 40 scholarships totaling more than $60,000 to LGBTQ scholars of color hoping to make a difference in their communities. Individual scholarships this year ranged from $1,000 to $5,000 – the top fund coming from a special donation made in memory of actor Abel Benitez, who died in a car accident last year.
Other scholarship sponsors included Walmart, Uber, SoCalGas, City Labs Boyle Heights, Bank of America, District 1 Supervisor Hilda Solis and District 4 Supervisor Janice Hahn.
Established in 2009, the Latino Equality Alliance advocates for equity, safety and wellness for the Latinx LGBTQ community. Located at the Mi Centro community center in Boyle Heights, the organization plans to open a second center in Bellflower.