University of Arkansas – Fort Smith student Garrett Rogers has a vision: to help students feel a sense of inclusion, not only at UAFS but around the world.
He took steps to achieve that lofty goal when he entered and was selected as one of 15 finalists across the nation for AT&T’s “Live Proud” scholarship contest, which rewards college students’ ideas for on-campus LGBT advocacy projects.
Rogers, a media communications and political science major from Clayton, Okla., devised a plan to comprehensively educate faculty and staff on LGBT issues to assist students, from securing financial aid to career services offices promoting local companies who support LGBT rights.
“Whether it be financial aid, healthcare, athleticism, etc. I believe being educated on the topic you’re speaking about is important and that’s why I planned this,” he said. “Education is key to success, and when people are educated on a certain topic, they are more likely to understand someone else viewpoints.”
Voting is currently open for the favorite projects out of the 15 finalists. The six projects with the most votes will be considered by the Human Rights Campaign, who will decide the three winners.
Voting ends Oct. 11, and winners will be announced Oct. 16. The six projects earning the most votes will receive $500, while the three overall winners will each receive a $2,500 grant to execute their proposal, a $10,000 scholarship, a new tablet and smartphone, a mentoring experience and a trip to Washington, D.C. To vote in the contest, visit the Live Proud website.
Rogers hopes to win the contest to continue pursuing his passion of promoting inclusion.
“Inclusion is so important to me because I want everyone to feel welcome wherever they may be. When people are welcomed and comfortable, their true potential is tapped into, and that’s when we really see people shine,” Rogers said. “I have witnessed firsthand discrimination simply based on my LGBT stances. It’s disappointing because I really feel like I and other LGBT youth have so much to offer. I want people to know that being different is cool and living your true authentic self is a hard thing to do in this world, so embrace it.”
After Rogers graduates, he aspires to become a state senator or representative to help bring more attention to these issues. He serves as the president of the LGBT Club at UAFS.
“Being chosen as a semifinalist is so exciting. Now that I’m competing for a final position in the top six, I’m hoping people will vote to help me get there,” Rogers said. “I’d love to represent UAFS in a great way like this.”
About the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith
The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith is the premiere regional institution of Western Arkansas, connecting education with careers and serving as a driver of economic development and quality of place in the greater Fort Smith region. Small class sizes, dedicated faculty and staff, affordable tuition rates, and a diverse on-campus culture allow UAFS students to fully explore their areas of interest in ways that prepare them for post-graduate success academically, professionally, and personally. To find out what makes UAFS just right for you, visit our website.