Three Palm Beach County high school seniors recently received scholarships of $1,000 each from the Second Annual Daniel S. Hall Social Justice Award Program. Sponsored by the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council and named in honor of the Council’s Board Treasurer, Daniel S. Hall, the awards are granted to college-bound youth who have demonstrated a clear commitment to social justice in Palm Beach County.
The three 2016 recipients are: Daniel Brassloff from Atlantic Community High School in Delray Beach; Boynton Beach Community High School graduate Victor Espidol; and Melanie Camejo Coffigny from Lake Worth Community High School.
The scholarships were presented at the schools’ awards ceremonies as part of their graduation programs,” said Carly Cass, Council Board Member and organizer of the award program. We were invited without any hesitation and that is a testament to the great progress made in the past couple of years.”
According to Council Founder and President, Rand Hoch, the Council received over 30 applications.
“Broadcasting information on the project resulted in an unexpected gift by a generous Council donor whose generosity increased the awards from one at $500 in our first year to three at $1,000 this year. We will continue to welcome donations for this important work,” added Hoch.
“There’s a lot of social justice work being done in the schools by LGBTQ students and their allies,” said Cass responding to a question about the selection process. “It’s important that we recognize and reward these youth who will be the leaders tomorrow.”
Daniel Brassloff is Founder and President of We the People, an equality club at Atlantic High School. The organization created a website to help transgender people. He also led the club's participation in the American Foundation For Suicide Prevention's Out of the Darkness Walk. Daniel will be attending Babson College to study social entrepreneurship.
Victor Espidol founded the Boynton Beach High School Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) and has been an active participant in the Compass LGBTQ Community Center's youth program. In 2014, Victor traveled to Tallahassee to urge legislators to defeat a bill that would have banned transgender individuals from using their self-identified genders’ bathrooms. He is an advocate for comprehensive sex education in the public schools and has spoken out about the need for more HIV prevention programs in Palm Beach County. Victor will study biology at the University of Florida.
Melanie Camejo Coffigny is Founder and President of Lake Worth High’s GSA, which is one of the largest organizations on campus. In conjunction with 2016 PrideFest of the Palm Beaches, Melanie and other GSA members from throughout the county joined the parade contingent of policemen and women employed by the School District of Palm Beach County. Marching together, the group showed support for LGBTQ students. Melanie will attend Duke University in the fall to study neuroscience.
The Social Justice Award is named after Daniel S. Hall, a local attorney who manages a financial counseling company. Hall has served as the Treasurer of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council since 1990 and is its longest serving board member.
"These three students exemplify the new generation of LGBT activists, who will help bring our nation together on our issues, which, unfortunately, divide America today," Hall said. “I am honored to have my name associated with this project.”