It is awards season on campus! The 22nd Annual Pride Awards occurred on March 4, 2014. The event brought together students, faculty, staff, and alumni to celebrate a year of challenges and accomplishments. Emory alumni in attendance spanned five decades of history at Emory. The award winners included:
Outstanding Transgender Advocate of the Year: Samantha Allen 15G
Samantha’s tireless dedication to trans* issues and people at Emory and beyond earned her the 2014 Outstanding Transgender Advocate of the Year Award. Over the past year, Samantha served as a co-facilitator for the Office of LGBT Life’s Trans-Forming Gender Discussion Group and as the Office’s graduate assistant where she brought thoughtful and provocative insight and skills to the position. Additionally, Samantha was instrumental in organizing Emory’s first observance of the Transgender Day of Remembrance where students, faculty, staff, and community members came together for education, support, and healing.
Fierce Leadership Award: Andy Ratto 13G
Using skill, courage, and persistence, Andy Ratto successfully led the charge in creating a more inclusive campus over the past two years. During the 2012-2013 academic year, Andy played an instrumental role in the removal of Chick-fil-a from campus, and the next year Andy joined with Sacred Worth to actively confront and protest the Candler School of Theology’s honoring of homophobic Eddie Fox with an alumni award. Whether delivering letters of dissent or serving on GALA’s Steering Committee, Andy finds ways to make Emory more inclusive and respectful of the LGBT community.
Ally of the Year: Alpha Tau Omega
Historically, fraternities and the queer community have not always had the best relationship, but this year a group of students sought to make a change. With the creation of an after party following Emory Pride’s Annual Drag Show, a new relationship was forged between undergraduate queer students and the brothers of Alpha Tau Omega. The leadership of ATO saw an opportunity to create a larger, greater, and more inclusive community, and this earned them the Ally of the Year Award.
Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe Keeping the Faith Award: Sacred Worth
As the queer student organization in the Candler School of Theology, Sacred Worth had a challenging academic year. Finding themselves shocked and hurt by the honoring of homophobic Eddie Fox with a prestigious alumni award, Sacred Worth came together as a group and as a community to protest Candler’s decision and vocalize the concerns of Candler’s LGBT and ally students. Employing numerous resources and sources of support, Sacred Worth displayed a united, loving front and kept their faith in their efforts to enact change.
Alum of the Year: John Blevins 05T
In addition to his extensive research and field work implementing HIV prevention strategies in Africa, this year’s Alum of the Year Award recipient worked diligently to support the students of Sacred Worth when the Candler School of Theology honored homophobic Eddie Fox with an alumni award. John Blevins 05T not only leveraged his faculty position in Candler, but also spent countless hours supporting and counseling students through a challenging semester. John’s willingness to show up and be a voice in the reconciliation of faith and sexuality makes him an impactful Emory alumnus.
Chesnut LGBT Person of the Year: Scott Turner Schofield 02C
Scott Turner Schofield 02C has made a nationally recognized name for himself as a transgender performer and artist. While at Emory, Scott advocated for more trans-inclusive policies and resources. After graduating from Emory, Scott continued his advocacy work through performing, writing, and speaking his art around the country. Using his experiences as tools for learning, Scott helps others understand trans* issues and concerns on a national stage.
Cameron receiving the award.
GALA Leadership Award: Cameron Coppola 16C
Read an interview with Cameron here on The Post.
This year’s Pride Awards also included a new component to welcome this year’s graduates into GALA: Emory LGBT Alumni. Prior to the awards ceremony, thirty 2014 graduates and alumni enjoyed a beautiful dinner together.
Many LGBT students and staff also received awards outside the Pride Awards. Several student and staff leaders received Unsung Heroine Awards from the Center for Women at the Women and Gender Awards in March. An Unsung Heroine is a woman who has demonstrated extraordinary dedication to issues that affect women at Emory or in the larger community, but whose efforts heretofore have not received accolades or formal recognition. Recipients included:
- Samantha Allen 15G, Office of LGBT Life Transforming Gender Discussion Group Co-Facilitator and Office of LGBT Life Graduate Assistant
- Nowmee Shehab 16C, Office of LGBT Life Queer Students of Color Discussion Group Co-Facilitator and Emory Pride Executive Board member
- Lauren Bernstein, Safe Space Facilitator
- Jonelle Shields McKenzie, Safe Space Facilitator