About the Pedro Zamora Young Leaders Scholarship
Dedicated to the continuing legacy of AIDS educator and activist Pedro Zamora, the Pedro Zamora Young Leaders Scholarship seeks to support the academic efforts of emerging young leaders who share Pedro’s passionate commitment to ending the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Soon after learning that he was living with HIV at age 17, Pedro dedicated his life to raising public awareness and arming other young people with the information and tools they needed to avoid HIV infection. At the age of 22, Zamora captivated the nation with his openness, compassion, vitality and charisma when he appeared on MTV’s The Real World 3: San Francisco (1994).
Millions of young Americans watched (and through syndication, continue to watch) as this grounded, insightful, gay Cuban-American immigrant – openly living with HIV in a time when the epidemic was often misperceived as a problem mostly for gay white men – left Miami to live with six strangers, amid the constant presence of TV cameras capturing the intimate details of their day-to-day lives. Pedro’s participation in The Real World was a strategic extension of the work he had been doing for almost five years.
Long before The Real World, Pedro provided HIV education to thousands of middle and high school students in small group, classroom, and assembly-style settings; trained educators and counselors in regional and national conferences; gave testimony at Congressional hearings on the needs of young people, especially those of young people of color; and battled stigma by sacrificing his privacy to raise awareness through profiles in major newspapers, and nationally broadcast television.
Pedro’s work was tragically cut short when he died of an AIDS-related illness in 1994, the morning after the final episode of The Real World aired. The Pedro Zamora Young Leaders Scholarship is meant to support and spotlight those young leaders from this generation, whose efforts and leadership continue to carry the torch of young activists like Pedro who fought the HIV/AIDS epidemic of their generation, in ways inspired by their own passions, insights, originality and conviction. The National AIDS Memorial Grove is committed to insuring that the legacy of Pedro Zamora continues and thrives through this Scholarship.
The Scholarship is open to all current high school seniors, and college freshman, sophomores and juniors (ages 27 and younger) who demonstrate an active commitment to fighting AIDS and taking on roles of public service and leadership (e.g. providing peer-based prevention and education; engaging in advocacy or grass-roots activism; raising public awareness; and/or delivering practical, emotional or treatment support to people living with HIV/AIDS), and who plan to continue to find ways to make a difference in the epidemic through their careers or through public service opportunities after their education is complete.
Since 2009, we have awarded a total of $140,000 in scholarships to 48 emerging young leaders in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Scholarships have generally ranged from $2,500 to $5,000, but 2016 marked the largest annual distribution of funds. A total of $50,000 was awarded to 10 students, two of whom received $5,000 awards in both 2015 and 2016.