My name is Ash Peers, my pronouns are They/Them/Theirs, and I am a four year GSBA scholar. I grew up in a small Washington town, where I was one of few out queer students in my high school. I first heard of the scholarship from my GSA advisor who encouraged me to apply.
It was not easy being queer in such a small community, without many others who could relate to the experiences I had. GSBA was the first place where I met many other out, proud queer folks. I remember the interview process and the scholarship dinner as the first times where everyone I spoke to could really understand what it was like to want a community of people like myself.
Winning the scholarship opened many doors to me. Beyond the much appreciated financial aid, the scholarship process gave me courage to face the leap of faith that was my freshman year of college. I was a queer, first-generation student from a small town, and the backing of GSBA was a tremendous boost. It was important for me to see not only other happy queer students, but also the queer elders I hadn’t imagined could exist. These experiences helped me to imagine a life beyond my small town and beyond my educational career. I saw that I could gain an education and do something worthwhile with it, like the people I had met at the scholarship dinner. Furthermore, it gave me the confidence to seek out a community of queer people in my new environment.
GSBA also showed me the importance of people within a community doing work for that community. I learned the importance of having queer representation among those who are leaders, and I have applied this to my time at Western. For the past two summers I have been involved with putting on the yearly orientation programs for new students, and by doing so I have tried to show incoming queer students that there are others like them on campus.
A few years have passed since I won that first GSBA scholarship. I am currently going into my senior year at Western Washington University, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, with minors in Queer Studies and Psychology. I will use my degree to support the LGBTQ communities I am part of. Currently my plan is to do so by pursuing work in a non-profit environment. It has been a long, difficult road to where I am today. I’ve experienced huge changes both academically and personally, but one constant throughout the journey has been the support of the Greater Seattle Business Association and its Scholarship Fund. I wholeheartedly thank them for the work they have done on behalf of myself and the many other scholars out there.