Below are the faces and voices behind this year’s scholarship recipients! Each individual received $2,500.00!
"I want to thank the Eugene Pride Foundation for their generous donation toward funding my education. It means the world to me and I couldn't achieve my goals without your help.
I graduated from South Eugene High School where I became involved in harm reduction. The most personally impactful activity I have been involved with is Harm reduction presentations.
During my junior year of high school, I noticed that the number of youth who could benefit from harm reduction resources is disproportionately higher than the youth services offered in my local community. A few other students and I developed and delivered harm reduction presentations to my high school health classes. The opportunity to create harm reduction presentations strengthened my public speaking and collaboration skills through working with staff and admin at my school. I plan to continue coming into local health classes and presenting to them throughout my adult life.
My experiences with addiction and recovery inspired me to go to college and engage in community outreach. I intend to complete my major in social work at University of Oregon Clarks Honor College in the fall. I want to engage in community outreach because I believe harm-reduction practices can improve everything. Lessening the adverse effects of drug usage, harm reduction emphasizes respect and human rights by starting with compassion. Compassion is used in harm reduction to meet individuals where they are and support their growth by simultaneously maximizing their autonomy, holding space for their struggles, and educating them about alternative coping skills. The opportunity to go to college will help me pave my path to success by allowing me to utilize the sense of justice living within me to “Honor the dead, and fight like hell for the living.””
“I'm from Eugene, OR, and recently graduated from Sheldon High School where I served as the President of the Gender-Sexuality Alliance for two years. I'm about to move to California to attend the University of California, Berkeley where I plan to pursue a Physics major. In my free time, I love mountain biking, exploring cafés with my friends, and volunteering in my community. This scholarship is helping me attend my dream school and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity this scholarship is helping provide.”
“Hello, My name is Ekco Smead.
I am the daughter of two strong mothers who have taught me to be accepting of all people and that includes myself. I am a proud Lesbian and I strive to give others a space to be proud and open with their own identities. The Bill Sullivan scholarship will allow me to gain a higher education at the U of O where I can learn all about queer history, build connections within Eugene's local queer community, and support others in the future thanks to my education. I hope to become a successful teacher and be a source of strength for my students, much like the GSA advisors at my former highschool, North Eugene Highschool.”
“My name is Hayli Thomas, I am a resident of Eugene, graduate from Lane Community College and transfer student to Portland State University School of Social Work. I am currently employed as one of Lane County’s Youth Health and Housing Navigators. I work with youth ages 16-24 experiencing homelessness to secure housing and build the skills necessary to embrace autonomy and thrive in society. We practice a housing first model coupled with wrap around case management, which encompasses community networking, education and career planning, mental health services, and activities of daily living. As a queer individual who has experienced houselessness myself, I know how difficult it can be to stabilize and reach a point of self actualization when facing consistent systemic barriers. My goal is to help intercept and support individuals who have been failed by the system and provide the physical, emotional and financial support necessary to succeed in “adulting”.
In my free time, I enjoy music, theater, reading, writing, crafting, cooking, foraging and camping. I spend as much time as possible in remote areas with my dog, or hosting events and activities for my friends, family, and community. I love spending time with children, animals, family, and my partner. I am taking in each day as it comes, and trying my best to live in the moment. In a world filled with the consistent need to be hyper independent and “go-getter” - I try to embrace a more present lifestyle, focusing on skill building and networking for those I interact with.
I grew up in the mountains of Santa Cruz, CA, where I spent my days running kitchens and volunteering for various organizations such as Homeless Garden Project, Barrios Unidos, HipHop for Change, and Food not Bombs. I know that I am the dreaded California transplant, (booo hiisssss), but rest assured, I am not here to monopolize on the housing market, in fact quite the opposite. Using what privileges I do have to advocate and support underserved communities has been a pillar in my day to day life as long as I can remember. Having the opportunity to be a first generation college graduate will allow me to better serve our community on a grander scale. I am a strong believer that in order to cultivate tangible systematic change, we must first understand how systems work inside and out. I may not be able to change the world, but I sure as hell can use the system to support individuals in actualizing the change they want to see in their lives. This scholarship will aid me in continuing my education, in turn, allowing me to gain the knowledge and resources needed to fight the good fight from the inside. It is an honor to be allotted this grant. From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for this opportunity.”