The PFLAG San Diego County Scholarship Portfolio

Since 1998, PFLAG San Diego County has overseen the awarding of over 200 scholarships in the amount of $480,000 to LGBTQ+ students. The portfolio of scholarship awards over-seen by the PFLAG Scholarship Committee continues to increase, including scholarships funded through former and current PFLAG members: the Rob Benzon/Dan Ferbal Foundation, Raytheon, Qualcomm, and the Stephen G. Bowersox Memorial Scholarship, among others. The scholarships are awarded to LGBTQ+ high school seniors continuing on to higher education or full-time undergraduate and graduate students through a competitive application and essay process. In addition to general scholarships, some are offered for specific areas of study: STEM, Art, Education, Community College, and Vocational Studies. The scholarship committee selects recipients based on commitment to their chosen field, financial need, and academic achievement. It is worth noting that one of the earliest recipients of a PFLAG SDC scholarship was Todd Gloria, Mayor of San Diego, who exemplifies the public service we support. “Launching Leaders” serves as both a platform to honor our recipients and a primary fundraiser for future scholarships.

Our Mission: To create a caring, just, and affirming world for LGBTQ+ people and those who love them.

PFLAG San Diego County and its collaborators are pleased to offer these scholarships. Minimum scholarship amounts are $2,000, and more than one scholarship may be awarded in a given category. Applicants are encouraged to address the additional award factors considered for these named scholarships when submitting their essays.

Scholarship Descriptions

Gary A. Marcus Scholarship for the Fine and Applied Arts
This scholarship is open to students who are continuing their education in the fine and applied arts to include art programs, theatre, literature, and music as well as cinema, television or digital arts/animation. Mr. Marcus has a BFA and an MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art. In his long, professional career, he taught art classes full time at a community college and at a junior high school, was an Interior Designer, and a Facilities Project Manager for the Federal Government.

Bill Hanson Community College Scholarships
These scholarships are principally, but not exclusively, for those students who feel their career choices will be better met at a community college or recognized vocational program. The goal of these scholarships is to either prepare students for employment in current or emerging occupations or establish a strong foundation for further studies.

M. Lynne Austin Memorial Scholarship
Ray and Jan Aller established the scholarship in memory of Rev. Martha Lynne Austin, a senior pastor of the United Methodist Church. Lynne was a life-long teacher who championed inclusiveness, tolerance and grace.

John Bessemer Memorial Scholarship
This scholarship is made possible through the generosity of PFLAG San Diego County to honor John’s commitment to LGBTQ+ youth. John, whose passion was education, was the husband of Linda Bessemer, a past president.

Rob Benzon Memorial Scholarship
To honor their beloved and generous friend, Rob Benson, the Rob Benzon Foundation Scholarship was created to recognize youth who demonstrate a giving spirit and charisma.

Daniel J. Ferbal Memorial Scholarship
Dan was a founding member of the Rob Benzon Foundation, and this scholarship was created in his honor. He was not only a leader in the Foundation, but in the hotel industry, as well. He was enthusiastic toward life, caring, and had a great sense of humor.

Stephen G. Bowersox Memorial Scholarship
Through the generosity of the family, friends, and co-workers of the Donna and James Bowersox family, this scholarship has been sustained. Their son, Stephen, was the recipient of a 2003 scholarship. This award is strongly predicated on social justice, demonstrated involvement, and high academic achievement, as well as broad, far-reaching interests and activities.

Kendall Family Memorial Scholarship
Dr. Kendall was an elementary education professor for 30 years at San Diego State University and was a lifelong student himself. Joanna Kendall was a top-notch real estate agent. They believed in the power of every individual to have an impact in their community. It was Dr. & Mrs. Kendall who introduced their daughter, Terrie Vorono, to PFLAG SDC 19 years ago. Terrie is the immediate past president of PFLAG San Diego County.

Qualcomm STEM Scholarships
Funded by the eQuality LGBTQ Qualcomm Employee Network, these are merit-based scholarships awarded to outstanding individuals who are pursuing a STEM field.

Raytheon RAYPRIDE & NXGEN STEM Scholarships
This is provided by the members of The Raytheon RAYPRIDE & NXGEN Employee Resource Group as a STEM scholarship to attract, support and train future LGBTQ+ professionals in science, technology, engineering, or math.

Mary Wagner Memorial Scholarship
Mary’s life-long friends, Marilyn and Art Carpenter, have contributed annually to the scholarship to honor Mary’s memory and enduring commitment to education.

Personal Achievement Scholarships
Through the generosity of an anonymous donor, PFLAG SDC is offering Personal Achievement Scholarships. These scholarships are intended for LGBTQ+ individuals who have overcome barriers to academic success to include First Generation applicants, English as a second language, those impacted by illness or other life challenges, or returning mature students. Applicants must attend or plan to attend an accredited college, university, or recognized vocational program.

Jeffrey D. Shorn and Charles S. Kaminski Scholarships
Funded by Charles Kaminski, in loving memory of his husband, Jeffrey Shorn, we are able to offer two separate scholarships this year. Jeffrey and Charles met in New York in 1974 and moved to San Diego in 1975. Being an out couple for almost 47 years, they were loving partners and husbands, architects, educators and historians. Mr. Kaminski is funding an academic scholarship for a student pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree with a goal of working in a community abroad alongside local leaders or a student pursuing a focus on LGBTQ+ studies or history. Both Mr. Shorn and Mr. Kaminski were Peace Corps volunteers in Iran, and it is his hope to encourage others to think globally. A separate vocational scholarship is available to a student pursuing a registered vocational program with the goal of obtaining proficiency in the construction trade, architecture or related field.

For deadlines and applications, visit the Scholarship Application page. If you have questions, please email us.