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Gay and Lesbian Alumni Association of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s to award two scholarships

and | Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Gay and Lesbian Alumni Association of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s (GALA-ND/SMC) will award two scholarships for the 2015-2016 school year to students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ).


 The $2,500 scholarships will be awarded to one Notre Dame and one Saint Mary’s student, GALA chair Jack Bergen, Notre Dame class of 1978, said.

“We specifically designated one scholarship for a candidate at each campus,” Bergen said. “Our alumni association covers both campuses, and we think it’s important to give equal support to students at both.”

According to GALA’s website, scholarship applicants must identify as LGBTQ and have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0. They must also be willing to be identified as the scholarship recipient and to complete a service component.

Bergen said GALA looks for both financial need and leadership potential in applicants.

“It helps someone who has a financial need, primarily,” Bergen said. “There’s a leadership component to it as well, so we are looking for someone who would be able to give back to the community. It’s all about giving forward in terms of helping not just one individual, but others as well.”

Bergen said the scholarship is meant to support and strengthen the LGBTQ communities at Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s.

“As an LGBT alumni group, we’re very pleased with the progress that’s been made on campus in terms of recognizing LGBT students and support the administration for their decision a couple of years ago to allow [PrismND] to form, so we think this is a positive next step to helping to support the students on campus,” he said.

Mary Porter, Saint Mary’s mathematics professor and staff representative on the GALA board said she thinks that the relationship between Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s and the LGBTQ community is improving. 

“We’ve seen progress over the past few years,” Porter said. “We look forward to collaborating with individuals on both campuses to making even more progress.”

GALA is fulfilling a need by supporting queer-identifying students at Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame, said Bri O’Brien, a Saint Mary’s junior and vice president of Intersect, a club which discusses and celebrates the intersectionality of different identities, including LGBTQ identities.

“Because of these common experiences, LGBTQ individuals often seek comfort, support and friendship with similarly identifying individuals; as a mentor and professor of mine often says, ‘we’re family.’ And as a family, we look out for one another,” O’Brien said. “This is exactly what GALA is doing for the ND and SMC LGBTQ community — looking out for us, caring for us and supporting us.”

O’Brien said the scholarship will also give recognition to the LGBTQ communities. 

“Not only will the recipients benefit, but the LGBTQ community will as well,” O’Brien said. “This is one of those rare occasions at SMC and ND where we are recognized as actually existing. Where ND and SMC often forget about us, GALA is ensuring we are recognized.”

Bergen said the scholarship was funded with a grant from the Raynier Institute and Foundation, which gives grants to various arts, healthcare and education-related non-profit organizations. He said GALA is looking for funding to continue the scholarship program.

“Hopefully we can make this not just a one-year event or a one-year occurrence, but we’re looking to do this on a regular, ongoing basis,” he said.

The application is due March 1, and it requires essays and two letters of recommendation. Students can apply online at http://www.galandsmc.org/

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Emily McConville is a news writer and photographer for the Observer. She is a senior studying history and Italian with a minor in journalism. She is from Louisville, KY and lives off-campus.

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