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High Country gay students, there's a scholarship for you 

Boone Pride offers college money for gay students

Are you a gay college student at a Charlotte university from the high country? Need some help paying for school?

Boone Pride may have a $1,500 scholarship for you.

"We're a young organization," says Deborah Hollingsworth, a board member of the group. "And most of us are connected to higher education. We started out as a party event, but we wanted to give back to the queer community."

Hollingsworth says young gays in N.C. mountain communities are often ignored or threatened at their schools. By creating this scholarship, she says, the group hopes to offer youth a sense of empowerment.

The award is intended to recognize and affirm High Country students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, inter-sexed or queer, as well as straight allies involved in gay issues. The purpose of the scholarship is to complement academic experiences by providing financial support for gay students, to encourage continuing education for self-identified gay youth, and to foster a positive image of gay people in society, according to the group.

Elizabeth West, another Boone Pride board member, says that scholarship applicants can attend any school in the country, but must be full-time students from Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes or Yancey counties. Both two- and four-year college students are eligible for the scholarship, as are high school seniors.

"This is the first year that we're offering this scholarship," says West. "It is a one time award, but they can reapply,"

The group hopes this scholarship will provide more visibility to gays and lesbians in the mountain counties and help them feel safe at school, West says.

The application is available online at www.boonepride.org, or can be obtained by e-mailing awards@boonepride.org.

The deadline for applications is March 31. All applicants must show proof of residency.

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