Madison College will soon be offering a scholarship to LGBTQ students, thanks to a new $20,000 gift from QBE, an Australian insurance company with offices in Sun Prairie. For now, scholarships will be available starting in three years, but the director and student communities hope to raise additional funds to offer it sooner.
Madison College will start collecting interest on the 20,000 dollar gift from QBE, and that interest will be offered each year to students awarded a Rainbow Scholarship. Dr. Julia Haseleu is a professor of psychology, director of the honors programs at Madison College and director of the new Rainbow Scholarship. She says the scholarship will take an important step in assisting LGBTQ students, who face distinct challenges in education and broader society.
“The scholarship is really important because the LGBTQ community continues to face discrimination in a variety of ways and for some people the discrimination is so bad when their young that they can’t even find their way to college. For other students, they finally make it to college; a lot of them have been separated from their family’s financial stream because of discrimination. We are hoping that this will be at least in some parts, support enough that they can start school regardless of what’s happened in their family life.”
Kaci Sullivan is a student at Madison College and started the TransLiberation Art Coalition. He says that as a member of the school’s transgender community, he is heartened by the larger message Madison College sends by offering the Rainbow Scholarship.
“It communicates a strong message, not just to the students at Madison College but also to the surrounding community. They are getting the message that people who are a part of that community are valued at this school, valued enough for there to be scholarships for them, and all of that matters.”
Given the personal nature of the scholarship, those designing it are working to make sure students feel safe and supported, regardless of whether they are ready to come out or engage with their communities. Dr. Haseleu says the scholarship committee will have to consider these delicate circumstances.
“You could have someone identify as a member of the group, but then you also want them to demonstrate how they’ve been involved in the community. However, the ones who are experiencing the most discrimination would probably be the least involved in the community. So, we are looking at weighing personal stories and community involvement.”
Being in the early stages, many logistics of the scholarship are yet to be worked out. Dr. Haseleu says she isn’t sure whether students will be limited to one award or if they could apply multiple times, for example. She expects to have about 1,000 dollars to offer per semester, and that the money will be split between 2 Rainbow Scholarship recipients.
While the scholarship will definitely be available in three years, additional funding could allow Madison College to start offering it much earlier. To that end, the Rainbow Scholarship committee is hosting a fundraising dinner at Bunky’s Cafe on Saturday, May 19th at 5:30 p.m.
Anyone is welcome to attend the fundraiser, and details are available at the Madison College Foundation website.
Christian Phelps reported the story for WORT News.