Thousands Watch Virtual Scholars Celebration

by Louise Chernin (She/her), GSBA President & CEO
| Jun 01, 2020

Thirty years of shaping visionary leaders! One year of planning the celebration and then - poof - with three months to go, everything changed. A Scholars Dinner for 500 had to be reimagined as a never-before done Virtual Scholars Celebration. A sit-down dinner for 500 was transformed into an evening enjoyed by thousands. If you weren’t one of those fortunate viewers, you still have a chance to enjoy an hour of spirit-lifting inspiration by viewing the Virtual Scholars Celebration on YouTube.

The Scholars Dinner planning committee led by Crystal Wilson and her team - Beth Osborne, Danny Cords, Jacky-Vy Chau, and Lisa Sterritt - let their imagination fly and created an evening of heartfelt stories and exciting moments to introduce this year's cohort: our sixty scholars, twenty-five returning scholars and thirty-five new scholars - the largest cohort yet. Scholar alum Ernesto Morfin-Montes de Oca knocked it out of the park as our emcee. The evening started off with Shinji Wakabayashi and Heather Wiedenhoff, GSBA’s first two scholars from 1991; who were followed by Scholars Nate Jo, Amanda Schendzielos, Richard Parra, Bryan Rincon Ochoa and Mei’lani Eyre. Listening to these resilient, courageous and smart students, renewed our hope, a scarce commodity in 2020.

Special thanks to Mayor Jenny Durkan, US Senator Patty Murray, and Washington State Supreme Court Justice Helen Whitener for congratulating our students. We also want to give a shout out to our dinner sponsors, who without hesitation changed their sponsorships into donations to the fund. Thank you: T-Mobile, Premera Blue Cross, Alaska Airlines, Amazon, Carter Subaru, Kaiser Permanente, Liberty Mutual, PwC, Safeco, and UW Medicine.

Now, more important than ever, we need people willing to step up and lead, so huge thanks is owed to our Board Chair Stephanie Dallas, Scholarship Chair Carrie Carson, and the entire Board for being those leaders. Moving an emotional evening of hugs and cheers into a virtual event is not easy, but with the vision and leadership of our Deputy Director Mark Rosén, Sr. Development Officer Jeff Boyer, Scholarship Manager Taylor Briggs, and the creative genius of our Production Manager Carlos Chavez, a magical evening was created. If you hadn’t grabbed your tissues yet, you definitely needed them when scholar Inéz Marti sang P!nk's “What About Us” as the images of smiles and messages from our cohort flashed across the screen.

Again, it is not too late to watch if you missed the event (or to watch again) to take part in the magic. Thank you to all of you who gave during the Celebration. If you missed this opportunity, please join the GSBA family of donors. Every donation ensures our LGBTQ and allied students are able to go to college. Education is the greatest equalizer there is, and investing in future diverse leaders, is a wise investment.

For a better future,

Louise Chernin (She/her)
GSBA President & CEO

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