Valencia College Starts LGBT+ Scholarship

Isaiah Peters, Contributing Writer

Nearly a year after the Pulse tragedy, Valencia College commemorated the seven students whose lives were lost. The administration offered seven $500 LGBT Plus Scholarships at the Valencia United Reception on Thursday June 8th at the Special Event Center on West Campus from 6:00-8:00pm.

Among the attendees were one of the scholarship recipients Osher Ostroff,  prominent Valencia United and LGBT members, as well as Valencia President Sandy Shugart, and West Campus President Felicia Williams.

Osher Ostroff shared her initial reaction once she had received the news of winning on Monday June 5th.

“My family was really happy, and I felt really good” Ostroff said.

Barbra Shell a vital contributor in bringing the scholarship to fruition spoke briefly on the origin of Valencia United and what the group accomplished.

“We’re celebrating the endowment of the Valencia United LGBT Plus Scholarship. The purpose of the program was to fundraise in order to create a scholarship. The endowment at Valencia is at $25,000, and what that means is that this scholarship will live in perpetuity and we will receive an awards budget each year and it will always exist, and we’ve actually raised $43,000,” Shell stated.

President of West Campus, Dr. Felicia Williams, provided a speech about the impact of Pulse and the commemoration of the seven Valencia students lost in the tragedy.

“We are grateful to everyone in the community for the acts of kindness, the outpouring of love, how people came together from all walks of life to remember those whose lives were lost and yet to celebrate the beauty of humanity. No matter where we hailed from, our backgrounds, our race, our ethnicity, our gender preferences, we remember Orlando United in a marvelous way to say that we will not be broken because of the tragedy that occurred,” Dr. Williams said.

An attendee, Marcos Antonio Quiroga, who is part of a grant making institution that funds nonprofit organizations that are supporting services for individuals who were impacted by the Pulse tragedy, shared his connection with the Pulse aftermath.

“We’ve just been supported throughout the entire process. It’s a great feeling to see it come to fruition, not only did they make their goal of $25,000 but they surpassed it and to see the impact that this is going to have on student’s lives is a really great thing for the community,”

Carlos Carbonell who was on the foundation board organized the “Go Fund Me Campaign” which raised a substantial amount of money towards the scholarship and also spoke publicly at the event.

“That’s what I could do: the small part that I could do, but so many people, I think we had almost 60 people in the Go Fund Me Campaign, just reach in a and give back and so many other people staff, faculty, students. That’s the power of this community. There’s one thing that I learned.  We were told that in a lot of communities when these types of events happen it rips the community apart or sometimes people forget, but here we are a year later and we’re still Orlando United.  That’s pretty powerful,” Carbonell said.