Recently, the San Diego Human Dignity Foundation partnered with PFLAG San Diego County to provide scholarships to LGBTQ students demonstrating leadership and triumph over adversity in the local community. One of these scholarship recipients was Vista’s own McKenna Roudebush, a senior at Rancho Buena Vista High School. Roudebush, along with eight other exemplary LGBTQ students, was recognized at the 2016 Launching Leaders Scholarship Awards Luncheon on Friday, May 13, at which she received the PFLAG General Scholarship award of $1000.
At the Launching Leaders Luncheon at Liberty Station, high school seniors, as well as full-time undergraduate and graduate scholarship recipients were honored for their success with awards from PFLAG San Diego County. PFLAG San Diego County has granted LGBT scholars over $130,000 in scholarships since 1998, and funds raised from the scholarship luncheon will go toward awarding more scholarships in the future. The event’s student scholars were chosen to receive scholarships based on their essay entries and qualifications in the competitive application process. At the event, these scholars were surrounded by other great local LGBTQ leaders in the community, including key note speaker and Director of Operations for San Diego LGBT Pride Fernando Lopez. Following a speech by Lopez introducing himself and the event’s importance to the LGBTQ community, scholarship recipients were asked to introduce themselves to the crowd and read an excerpt from their winning essays. Recipients of the scholarships included John McCusker Memorial Scholarship recipient Theodore Bruni, Stephen G. Bowersox Memorial Scholarship recipient Humberto Castorena, John Bessemer Memorial Scholarship recipient Jacob Garrett, Rob Benzon Memorial Scholarship recipients Riley Gibson and Antonio Mendivil, Mary Wagner Memorial Scholarship recipient Brandon Ishikata, Ethics Scholarship recipient Ash Matheson, and General PFLAG Scholarship recipients Jairo Leon and McKenna Roudebush.
McKenna Roudebush was one of three high school students to be awarded a scholarship from the SDHDF-PFLAG partnership, and was the only winner recognized from the Vista Unified School District at the Launching Leaders event. Roudebush’s involvement in the community as a full IB candidate at RBV and as president of the Feminist Club on campus made her a highly qualified candidate for the scholarship. She established the very first Feminist Club at Rancho Buena Vista in her junior year, hoping that she could create an open environment for women of all races and sexual orientation to join and talk about female rights. Coming from a conservative background, McKenna claimed that she did not always feel comfortable talking about such issues as LGBT and female rights, but through the Feminist Club she aims to effect positive change in her community by discussing and viewing these issues from a compassionate standpoint in an open-minded environment. In her scholarship-winning essay, she talked about her influential high school experience and how it has shaped her as an LGBT leader.
At the Launching Leaders event she read an excerpt of her essay, stating that “As I was beginning to become more involved in feminism, I was also coming to terms with my sexuality, and as a result I became increasingly aware of how exclusion continues to exist in social activism. I then decided that I wanted to do something on campus for other girls who were interested in feminism but felt that their voices may not be heard.” In an interview McKenna claimed that in addition to her work with the Feminist Club, in the future she wishes to help others. She claimed that her experiences with adversity as an LGBT woman have given her the perspective she needs to work toward eradicating these issues of exclusion so they will not exist in the future. In reference to the Launching Leaders event, McKenna claimed that the event was truly inspiring because as someone not familiar with many other LGBT adults, she was introduced to many influential adult leaders of the LGBTQ community. As she claimed, the event is important to LGBT youth because “it shows you that there are others like you and you can grow up to be successful.”