Palm Beach County Human Rights Council has announced the winners of the 2020 Daniel S. Hall Social Justice Scholarship. Each of the recipients will receive a $2,500 scholarship.
“[This] award provides financial assistance to LGBTQA high school seniors that have desires to continue their education and fight for social justice change,” said Jasmine K. Lewis, chairman of the scholarship program. “Many LGBTQ+ students often face unique challenges in their personal lives and academia; funding their continued education shouldn’t be one of them. By having access to scholarships and other financial opportunities, LGBTQ+ students can better shape cultural progress.”
PBCHRC is Florida's oldest, independent, non-partisan, political organization that is committed to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.
The Social Justice Awards pays homage to local attorney Daniel S. Hall, who has mentored several LGBT students, manages a financial counseling company, is a father of three, and is PBCHRC’s longest-serving board member.
“Our young people are more civically engaged than ever before,” Lewis said. “As a secondary education teacher, I know firsthand the importance of continued education after high school and how it’s beneficial in the fight for social and racial justice.”
Selecting the applicants is not an easy task. Applications are available in February, during that time information is sent out to local high school counselors in Palm Beach County and also GSA sponsors. Interested students have a deadline of April to complete the application. One of the major prerequisites for the applicant is that they must showcase a passion for high academic achievement and expressed dedication to social justice in the LGBT community. The board voted upon the selected students. Thanks to the funding, this year they were able to select three winners.
"I am eager to use my education to make a real difference in the world and to ensure equal rights and fair treatment of all people, regardless of sex, religion, race, gender, etc.," said Endora Guillaume, a Park Vista Community graduating senior. “This scholarship will make a tremendous difference in my education and will help me begin my life's calling.”
Guillaume is a Lake Worth resident; a Bright Futures Academic Scholar and has also been active in her school’s Gender-Sexuality Alliance and Black Student Union.
Guillaume plans to attend her dream school, Howard University, to study political science.
Another Lake Worth resident and graduating senior Kyle Ahern from Dreyfoos School of the Arts, who is an active student in his communication department and Editor-in-Chief for the Marquee newspaper at his school. Due to COVID-19, Kyle has organized an online speech tournament that will donate all the proceeds to the National Domestic Violence Hotline. He will attend Moody College of Communication at the University of Texas, where he will study journalism.
Theo Shusterman of West Palm Beach serves as the Co-Vice President of the Gender and Sexuality Alliance at Dreyfoos School of the Arts. Shusterman is a gun reform activist and the Co-Director of March For Our Lives West Palm Beach. He plans to continue his studies at Wesleyan University where he plans to study political science and sociology.
Carly Cass has served as the chair of the PBCHRC’s charitable foundation scholarship program, and has actively participated since 2015. This year she decided to pass the baton to Lewis.
“I am extremely honored. My educational career would not have been possible without scholarships and awards similar to the Dan Hall Social Justice Award. Being a teacher and GSA sponsor has provided me with insight to some of the struggles that marginalized and LGBTQ+students encounter,” Lewis said. “I know the challenges that students face when making plans for college. These challenges can be especially difficult for our LGBTQ+ students. It feels good being able to provide this group of marginalized students a chance to receive some financial assistance to their continued educational journey. It is the hope of PBCHRC that these students would take the skills acquired in college and give back with advocacy on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community.”