The Pedro Zamora Young Leaders Scholarship supports the educational pursuits of young people who demonstrate an active commitment to fighting AIDS by taking on roles of public service and leadership, and intend to pursue a career that will have a clear and demonstrable impact on the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Since 2009, the program has awarded a total of $50,000 in scholarships to 35 ‘young leaders’ in the fight against AIDS and we are proud to feature our 2014 scholarship recipients below.
Alexander Pacach is currently working towards a B.A. in Deaf Studies, with a minor in Psychology at Cal State University, Northridge. Upon completion, he will enter the Social Work Masters Program at Cal State University, Northridge, in order to pursue a career in which he will continue to support the sexual health of young people from different communities, including LGBTQ, deaf/hard-of-hearing, and others who are underserved. Alexander is a Health Education Associate of LIFE Project Risk Reduction Program at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, which focuses on the sexual health of young gay/bisexual/queer men, ages 18-24, and has served as a Youth Ambassador for the 2014 National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. In addition, he provides HIV testing and counseling services, and outreach to other youth in various venues. Alexander participated at the National AIDS Memorial Grove’s 2014 World AIDS Day Observance by speaking from the stage about his passionate commitment to the fight against AIDS.
“The Pedro Zamora Young Leaders Scholarship is a wonderful program that has helped me continue my undergraduate education, putting me much closer to achieving my career goals. Being a recipient of the scholarship has reiterated the importance of my role as a young professional in achieving an AIDS-free generation. I am honored to have received the scholarship in the name of someone who is so inspirational to young people. Now I’m more motivated to make a difference – and you can be the change too!” – Alexander Pacach
Biviana Coyomani is a freshman at Stony Book University in New York, where she intends to earn a B.A. in Psychology, and later complete her master’s degree in order to pursue a career as a social worker in disadvantaged areas. Biviana served as a Youth Leader at Red Hook Initiative (“RHI”), an organization which nurtures young people to envision themselves as co-creators of their lives, community and society. Her work at RHI focused on peer education in the areas of socio-emotional and sexual health, and included leading workshops on pertinent topics, spreading awareness of sexually-transmitted diseases and safe sex, and connected young people to needed resources. Biviana believes that creating a social impact means stimulating a domino effect of change in her community in which people gather information and share it with others, and that in this way, sexually-transmitted diseases and safe sex awareness is brought into the light of her community, and to other disadvantaged areas.
Jose Comi is a Junior at Cal Poly where he is studying to become a biomedical engineer. Having been inspired since the age of 15, he continues his professional lab research career in order to provide assistance in cutting edge HIV treatments. He currently supports the community by serving as a peer counselor and mentor for the Youth Group Program at the San Luis Obispo Gay and Lesbian Alliance while also volunteering on weekends with their mobile HIV testing unit. He will be the first in his family to graduate with a college degree.
Tiana Camacho is a Junior at Binghamton University in New York where she is pursuing a career in the arts. Her hope is to use her degree as an effective way to bring an awareness to the conflicting laws surrounding organ transplants for HIV+ people. Having volunteered with the CUNY/NYC LGBT Task Force and the NAMES Project has only furthered her passion for eliminating the stigma that still exists today. In 2013 at the AIDS Memorial Quilt event at The City College of NY, greeting guests and providing emotional support became the motivating factor in her decision to creatively impact the HIV/AIDS community.
Ahseem Rish is a sophomore at Los Angeles Community College where he is working towards a bachelor’s degree in English and Psychology. He plans to become a teacher at an inner-city school. Asheem makes a notable impact on his community by serving as an HIV prevention specialist, facilitating workshops about prevention methods, and working as an activist in the fight against HIV/AIDS. He’s involved with the African American Gay Men’s Health Initiative, a program of the AIDS Project of Los Angeles.