Each year, the National AIDS Memorial awards a scholarship to ten individuals through the Pedro Zamora Young Leaders Scholarship Program, in order to pursue their educational goals and remain committed to public service and leadership in the ongoing fight against HIV/AIDS. Each of the following individuals has been awarded a $5,000 scholarship.
Nestor Rogel is a 2017 Scholarship recipient. He is a junior at Cal State University Dominguez Hills in Carson City, and is a second year Scholarship recipient. Nestor was born HIV positive and, after losing his mother to AIDS-related pneumonia, became an advocate for the rights and well-being of youth living with HIV. Nestor first volunteered with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and then with Student Global AIDS Campaign. His efforts led him to lobby members of Congress for increased funding for the Presidential Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. His work helping to end discrimination and break stereotypes earned him the Hero Award from the South Bay AIDS Network. He has attended the International AIDS Conference to organize demonstrations and to screen the documentary “We’re Still Here” in which he appears with other people living with HIV. He is continuing his work in toward a career in political organizing and advocacy, forming the Positive Youth Network and joining the Californians for Criminalization Reform to reduce the stigma of people living with HIV.
Antwan Matthews is a 2017 Scholarship recipient. He is a junior at Tougaloo College in Mississippi and Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. After seeing how HIV/AIDS was affecting the African-American community, Antwan helped found the Peer HEALTH Educators organization at his school, aimed towards addressing HIV testing in similar communities and building representation to address the inherent socio-economical disadvantages of the population. Antwan is studying biology in school, with plans to receive an MD/MPH after medical school. He aspires to be a physician specializing in medical diseases. His goal is to demonstrate how Black representation is an essential element to decreasing overall rates of HIV infection.
Kuhan Jeyapragasan is 2017 Scholarship recipient. He is a junior at Stanford University. It was during his training as a peer support counselor to the national LGBT Youthline in Toronto that Kuhan began his awareness of the impact of AIDS. He founded the Queer-Straight Alliance at his high school and worked to increase awareness of the disease in school classes and in a Tamil-speaking medical clinic. He has spent over 2,500 hours of his time volunteering to advocate for LGBTQ+ and HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention. At Stanford, Kuhan is conducting research on LGBTQ health disparities and forming lesson plans to educate youth in low-income communities. He is majoring in Applied Mathematics with a minor in Public Policy, and plans to pursue a career in healthcare policy.
Sarah Benedith is a 2017 Scholarship recipient. She is a freshman at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. Her work as a teen mentor in disadvantaged sections of NJ and PA has inspired her commitment to help improve outcomes for youth who present a high risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. Through a school based program, Sarah has mentored over 100 students from disadvantaged populations, including but not limited to; victims of commercial sexual exploitation, gang members, LGBTQIA students, youth with homeless status and/or substance abuse issues. Sarah has been successful in empowering youth to obtain HIV/AIDS testing and helping young sex workers to obtain services and escape the trade. Her goal is to become an OB/GYN doctor in her community and continue to be an advocate for people affected by HIV/AIDS.
Grace Gautereaux is a 2017 Scholarship recipient. She is a sophomore at Williamette University in Salem, Oregon. When Grace came out as bisexual at twelve years old, it became a guiding force in identity exploration and pushed her towards researching sexuality and queer history. In tenth grade, Grace founded the Sexuality and Gender Acceptance Club in Douglas High School as a safe space for students to learn the complexities of sexuality and gender. Less than a year into her university education, she decided to major in politics, with her goal of become a long-term advocate for HIV/AIDS research and awareness and increasing sexual-health curriculum into rural areas of the country.
Kelly Gluckman is a 2017 Scholarship recipient. She is a senior at UCLA. She became HIV positive in 2010, and found that her position as a white, heterosexual, cisgender young woman, she was able to break the stereotypes and stigma of living with HIV. This led her to become public with her status, contributing to awareness campaigns by the CDC, appearances on television and podcasts, and telling her story to members of Congress to advocate for good HIV/AIDS policy. Since 2014, she has represented the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation and has been expanding her platform and impact by using her story as an entry point for sexual health education, as well as awareness that this virus impacts everyone and this epidemic is not over. After she graduates in June 2018, she will pursue a career in public speaking with university students, while supporting the HIV/AIDS community through volunteer work with AIDS service organizations. Ultimately, she plans to return to academia, earn a Masters in Public Health and use her research to influence federal policy on sexual health education.
Kyle Miller is a 2017 Scholarship recipient. He is a junior at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Kyle’s early experiences with injection drugs led him to get involved with HIV/AIDS awareness. He has volunteered at his local LGBTQ+ youth center where he educates on sexual health and safety, and tests for HIV and other STIs. He is dedicated to reducing the harm from syringes and works to provide clean needles, safety kits and other services. His plan after graduation is to obtain a Masters in Social Work.
Basirat Owe is a 2017 Scholarship recipient. She is a freshman at Cornell University. After growing up in Detroit, Basirat began her work in advocacy as a peer educator with Planned Parenthood of Michigan (PPMI). She furthered her work in sexual health and awareness by joining her high school’s Gay–Straight Alliance. She plans to major in Policy Analysis and Management at Cornell’s School of Human Ecology, with her goal of joining the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). She lives by the slogan of PPMI: “Care. No matter what.”
Hannah Piecuch is a 2017 Scholarship recipient. She is a sophomore at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia. She has cared deeply for sexual health education since high school in Memphis, Tennessee, which prompted her to attend the Planned Parenthood of the Greater Memphis Region’s activism camp and undergo training as an abortion doula for the CHOICES clinic in Memphis. She co-founded Knowledge Empowering Youth, a peer-led sex education organization, and for this work was recognized as a co-recipient of the Young Volunteers of the Year Award by PPGMR. After moving to the Atlanta area for college, she has continued her involvement with sexual health and reproductive rights by starting a campus chapter of Planned Parenthood Generation Action and volunteering with the Feminist Women’s Health Center. She hopes to continue learning about gender and sexuality as a Women’s Studies and Psychology double major.
Jonathan R. is a 2017 Scholarship recipient. As a queer immigrant from the Caribbean, Jonathan was struck with increased stigma from both his background and his sexual orientation. Inspired by the story of Ryan White, Jonathan was motivated to join the Ryan White Planning Council where he could deliver health and support to people living with HIV/AIDS. Through this, he has learned how to identify and analyze policies and legislative issues related to HIV. He is studying Religion with the goal of being a psychologist and exploring mental health and how society is affected by its workings of privilege, and the power of resistance.
Tsion Afman is a 2016 scholarship recipient. She was born in Ethiopia; after her parents died she was placed in an orphanage and later adopted by a family in Washington. Today, she is a freshman at the University of Washington and aims to work to translate and disseminate information about sexually transmitted diseases, specifically HIV/AIDS, to other countries. During her time at Newport High School (Bellevue) she became involved with AIDS Student Peer Educators at Newport (ASPEN) becoming a peer advocate and conducted workshops on topics ranging from diversity to STD, HIV/STD prevention, and contraception.
Albert A. is a 2016 Scholarship recipient. He is a junior at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Albert’s goal is to graduate with honors and begin working as a teacher in an urban high school. Growing up gay and surrounded with misinformation, Albert is driven to end the HIV-related stigma. He has worked organizing various HIV/AIDS awareness events at Rutgers University, and with the Rutgers Children’s AIDS Network, the New Jersey HIV/AIDS Planning Group and AIDS Walk.
Caitlyn Anderson is a 2016 Scholarship recipient. She is a sophomore at University of Nevada Las Vegas and plans to graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications with a minor in Gender and Sexuality Studies. Caitlyn’s focus is on prevention techniques; the effects education has on risk behaviors; and providing resources, specifically health and housing for LBGTQ youth. She has worked lobbying local and state elected officials to approve a medically accurate and LBGTQ-inclusive sexual health education curriculum for public schools. On-campus and at local high schools she works providing sexual health workshops dedicated to breaking the stigma of those living with HIV/AIDS.
Benjamin Di’Costa is a 2016 Scholarship recipient. He is a freshman at Truman College in Chicago and plans work in Policy and Political Advocacy to make sure that his voice and those that follow are heard. Benjamin has traveled extensively sharing his story and working with organizations on how to better serve the youth and young adult community. He is currently working as a HIV Prevention Coordinator, PrEP Specialist for a local organization called Chicago House and Social Service Agency.
Ruben Molina is a 2016 Scholarship recipient. He is a junior at the University of Florida and a long-time volunteer at Gatorwell, the health and wellness organization at the University of Florida, dedicated to talking to students about safe sex and resources available from on and off-campus physicians. During the summer months, Ruben worked at Valley AIDS Council in South Texas helping to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS, focusing on young Latino men. Ruben plans to attend medical school and he hopes to work closely treating the LGBTQ community.
Nestor Rogel is a 2016 Scholarship recipient. He is a junior at Cal State University Dominguez Hills in Carson City. He was born HIV positive and after losing his mother to AIDS-related pneumonia became an advocate for the rights and wellbeing of youth living with HIV. Nestor first volunteered with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and then with Student Global AIDS Campaign. His efforts led him to lobby members of Congress for increased funding for the Presidential Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. His work helping to end discrimination and break stereotypes earned him the Hero Award from the South Bay AIDS Network. He is working toward a career in political organizing and advocacy.
Patrick Sabillon is a 2016 Scholarship recipient. He is a freshman at Florida State University living with HIV and works closely with Compass’ Outreach visiting at-risk communities like rehab centers, educating people on how to prevent HIV and the resources available for those living with HIV/AIDS. Patrick knows that anybody can be infected with AIDS, and is concerned with the rising number of HIV cases in black and Latino communities. His goal is to reach out to young HIV positive people who are struggling with the mental health effects of living with HIV—depression, anxiety, and stigma—and navigating the healthcare system by themselves.
Abdon Orrostieta is a 2016 Scholarship recipient. He is a second-year scholarship recipient and senior at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. He volunteers with Latino Salud, a nonprofit community- and minority-based HIV agency that provides HIV rapid testing and linkage services making Ryan White support and other medical services accessible to HIV-positive individuals. He is also a member of the Health Awareness and Prevention Society (HAPS), which promotes increased awareness and healthy living through education and prevention, and plans to incorporate what he has learned through his involvement with HAPS and Latino Salud into his future professional endeavors.
Manuel Venegas is a 2016 Scholarship recipient. He is a second-year scholarship recipient and a senior at the University of Washington. Receiving this award will help him finish his undergraduate studies in Latin American & Caribbean Studies with an emphasis on Global Health. His background in public policy, community organizing and mobilization are just some key factors that come into play when he advocates for HIV & AIDS at the community, state and national levels.
About the Scholarship
The National AIDS Memorial started the Pedro Zamora Young Leaders Scholarship Program in 2009 and has since expanded its reach to high school seniors and college students from across the country through the support of corporate and individual donors, including major support this year from Gilead Sciences and Wells Fargo.
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 HIV/AIDS and taking on roles of public service and leadership.