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

Mary Wagner Memorial Scholarship (est. 1999)
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.

John Bessemer Memorial Scholarship (est. 2002)
This scholarship is sponsored by PFLAG San Diego County. It was established to honor the memory of John Bessemer, a PFLAG Dad who was committed to LGBTQ+ youth. John, whose passion was education, was the husband of Linda Bessemer, a past president.

Rob Benzon Memorial Scholarship (est. 2006)
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.

Stephen G. Bowersox Memorial Scholarship (est. 2008)
This scholarship was established through the generosity of family, friends, and co-workers of Jim and Donna Bowersox. The Bowersox family has sustained the scholarship through the years. 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.

Raytheon RAYPRIDE & NXGEN STEM Scholarships (est. 2010)
These STEM scholarships are provided by members of the Raytheon RAYPRIDE and NXGEN Employee Resource Groups to attract, support, and train future LGBTQ+ professionals in science, technology, engineering, and math.

Kendall Family Memorial Scholarship (est. 2017)
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 a past president of PFLAG San Diego County.

M. Lynne Austin Memorial Scholarship (est. 2019)
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.

Qualcomm STEM Scholarships (est. 2019)
Funded by the eQuality LGBTQ Qualcomm Employee Network, these are merit-based scholarships awarded to outstanding individuals who are pursuing a STEM field.

Daniel J. Ferbal Memorial Scholarship (est. 2020)
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.

Gary A. Marcus Scholarship for the Fine and Applied Arts (est. 2021)
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 (est. 2021)
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.

Personal Achievement Scholarships (est. 2021)
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 (est. 2023)
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. One scholarship is to encourage global thinking and one to support architecture or similar vocations.

Trischman Family Scholarship (est. 2024)
The Trischman family embraces the values of acceptance, honesty, curiosity, and generosity. The Trischman Family Scholarship supports those seeking an education that will enable them to contribute to their community and the world around them. The scholarship is open to LGBTQ+ students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Music or Science with an emphasis on biology or the environment.

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