LGBT Scholarship Fundraiser held at USF

12/09/08 Lisa Marzilli
WMNF Drive-Time News Tuesday | Listen to this entire show:

As the cost of college education continues to soar, lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgendered youth are particularly vulnerable. As a result, more organizations are establishing scholarship programs aimed specifically at helping LGBT students.

One of those groups is the University of South Florida Alumni Association’s LGBT Society. It held its first fundraising event at USF’s Marshall Center on Friday night (Dec. 5th).

Dr. Karen Berkman is director of the USF Center for Autism and Related Disabilities. She also chairs the committee on Issues of Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity, an advisory board that reports to the president about campus climate issues affecting LGBT staff, students and faculty. Berkman told WMNF that the scholarship fund is very close to reaching the required $25,000 endowment.

Berkman described the USF campus climate as “welcoming” and said a large number of incoming freshman have become very involved with the PRIDE Alliance, a student group for LGBT students and their allies.

Mark Hafen is a professor and a member of the LGBT Alumni Society. He said many LGBT students are cut off financially by their families when they come out. But he said it was difficult to assess just how many may be at risk of not graduating,

Hafen said the LGBT Society was lucky to get everything sponsored for the fundraiser, including food & drink by Ciccio & Tony's and The Lime as well as fee, travel and lodging by Sunbelt Title Agency for comedian Vickie Shaw, who headlined the event. The audience of more than 100 was also treated to two short films provided by the Tampa Bay International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival now known as Clip.

Kristen Shalosky is a junior at USF and president of the PRIDE Alliance. She said there are too many LGBT students struggling to stay in school, including some of her friends and said the scholarship will make a significant difference.

Shalosky said being at USF has made her more open to her own sexual orientation and she echoed the sentiments of Dr. Karen Berkman about how supportive the school is towards students like her.

The night culminated in a performance by Vickie Shaw, who, after 18 years of marriage and three children became a standup comedian and came out as a lesbian at the same time. Born and raised in Texas, Shaw, who calls herself a “recovering SOB” (Southern Baptist) is known for her appearances on Comedy Central as well as her performances for both gay and straight audiences across the country.

For more information visit the website of the USF Alumni Association’s LGBT Societyor the [central web page for all things LGBT at USF](]

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Correction to web site

The USF LGBT Alumni Society's web page is The central web page for all things LGBT at USF is