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Every year, the Point Foundation awards a collection of deserving LGBT students in college and graduate school scholarships to continue their education and enable them to give back to the communities from which they came. This year is no different, but the 2013 class of Point Scholars is truly exceptional. With scholars hailing from all over the world, the 26 Point Scholars named this year represent a diverse array of gender, sexual orientation, national origin, and ideological leanings. Nearly half of the 2013 scholars are people of color — the highest percentage ever awarded by the foundation.
This year, two students from Wisconsin have been named Point Scholars: Camden Goetz from Wisconsin Rapids and Emily Ptak-Pressman from Madison.
Camden Goetz grew up in central Wisconsin with a passion for justice, focusing this passion on educational justice and LGBTQ liberation after joining his school’s Gay-Straight Alliance in 2009. With Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, GSA Network, Wisconsin’s GSAFE, and other organizations, Camden has led workshops and trainings, lobbied for policy change, organized protests, and more. He has particularly enjoyed advocating for trans justice, effective educational policy, and global LGBTQ issues. Camden plans to continue this activism by studying international relations and pursuing a career in human rights law and policy.
Camden’s words of advice to LGBT youth struggling with familial rejection, educational difficulties, or other hardships:
Although everyone’s personal situation is unique, what helped me the most was to get directly involved in ending different oppressions. As LGBTQ youth we often receive the message that we have little power to end our oppressions and we should just wait for it to “get better,” but the truth is we do have an enormous amount of power. We can resist and fight back, and we can make it better.
Emily Ptak-Pressman happily grew up in a warm and loving queer activist family in Baltimore and later in Madison, Wis., attending her first Pride march in Washington, D.C., at the age of two. Emily is committed to fighting oppression of all kinds. Raised by two lesbian mothers, Emily was spurred into activism after Wisconsinites, including some of her relatives, voted in 2005 to amend the state constitution to marginalize and discriminate against families like hers.
She is now also compelled to act by the oppression she has faced since coming out as queer, the struggles of her transgender and gender-nonconforming friends, and the racism and classism she witnesses at school and as reflected in national education and immigration policies. After starting a GSA in her middle school, Emily helped revitalize and make more inclusive her high school GSA. She organized Words Hurt and Human Rights Weeks, two annual school-wide events to fight bullying and support global human rights. She discovered the joy and power of sharing stories to create change through participating in Proud Theater, an LGBTQ youth theater group, and leading trainings on topics such as being an ally to transgender and gender non-conforming youth, LGBTQ rights, and how various identities intersect.
Emily’s words of advice to LGBT youth struggling with familial rejection, educational difficulties, or other hardships:
Remember that there are so many people in this world who love you and want you to live full, happy lives.