LGBTQ Resource Center to offer scholarships

The scholarships were approved in 2005 but forgotten until recently.

For the first time, the LGBTQ Resource Center will be offering three $500 scholarships to students who exhibit outstanding qualities of leadership and involvement in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Ally campus community this fall.

The announcement of the GLBTA Scholarship Fund has been a cause for excitements from students at the Resource Center and to students of the MU LGBTQ community, both of whom have yet to see a scholarship of this particular design. But frustration underlies the excitement, LGBTQ Resource Center Director Ryan Black said.

While scanning through old files in the Resource Center last spring, Black said he found a folder labeled "Academic Scholarship" and, inside, a description of a $10,000 endowment, with an accumulating interest of $1,000 a year, that was approved in 2005.

"It was actually a student who came up to me and looked over my shoulder and said, 'What's that?'" Black said. "So you have to look at that and realize that, wow, that's been there the entire time and nobody's been able to access it."

The GLBTA Scholarship Fund, donated from a collection of MU alumni and friends, was instituted five years prior. The primary document enclosed specifications regarding the application layout, the name of the fund, the selection process for the recipients and the amount of money desired for each awarded student.

"When I look at the date on when it was established and think of the date now, the immediate thought is, 'How many students could have used that within that time?'" Black said. "How many people couldn't continue their college education for lack of funds?"

The LGBTQ Resource Center, Student Life and Student Financial Aid, departments that contribute to alumni scholarships of this type, could not explain the reason for the delay in the scholarship's availability. Student Financial Aid Assistant Director Russell Jeffrey said the inexperience of the LGBTQ Resource Center administration is one of the causes for the delay.

"They don't do this," Jeffrey said. "They don't have scholarships, so they were trying to create a process whereby people would apply. It has a very specific application process embedded in the endowment itself."

Both Black and Jeffrey agreed the many changes of the LGBTQ Resource Center's directors, locations and staff in the past several years have left the scholarship at a disadvantage.

"As an intern director grad student, I had to figure out, 'Does this exist? Is the money still there?'" Black said, referring to finding the fund last spring. "(The LGBTQ Resource Center) had talked about a scholarship without realizing there was one already there."

Despite these setbacks, LGBTQ Resource Center staffer Carrie McKinley said she remains optimistic about the scholarship's benefits.

"I think it just gives people the feeling like their work in this aspect is more justified," McKinley said. "These people have worked so hard to make (MU) an accepting place."

The scholarship, with an application deadline of Oct. 1, is now being offered to the MU community and will continue to be offered each year. Black said a nomination committee comprised of various campus leaders who understand the need for and importance of the scholarship will select the first awardees based on a required GPA of 2.9 or above, full-time student status, 30 completed credit hours, submitted writing, a letter of recommendation and a resume.

"It's disappointing and a little frustrating that it has taken this long," Black said. "But the final thing is that it is out there and students can apply for it. Any opportunity to help a student to not worry about their finances is great."

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