Did you know that San Diego Mayor, Todd Gloria, was one of the very first recipients of a PFLAG San Diego County scholarship?
He took the time out of his very busy schedule to talk about his experience and how he put the scholarship to good use!
PFLAG: Tell us a little bit about your background (where you grew up and the high school you attended).
GLORIA: I am a native San Diegan. I attended James Madison High School in Clairemont.
PFLAG: What issues did you deal with as an out LGBT youth?
GLORIA: I encountered many of the same issues that today’s out LGBT youth deal with while growing up. There were the issues of bullying, name calling, and social isolation that are sadly too common. These challenges, in addition to typical adolescence angst, makes the high school experience for LGBT youth particularly tough and why support groups like PFLAG are so important.
PFLAG: How did you find out about the PFLAG scholarship program?
GLORIA: I learned about the PFLAG scholarship by reading a call for applications in the Gay & Lesbian Times. (The publication is no longer in print.)
PFLAG: How did you use your scholarship funds and what did you study in college?
GLORIA: I used my scholarship to cover the cost of books and other fees during my final year of college. It was a godsend as I ended my undergraduate studies in History and Political Science and prepared to enter the workforce.
PFLAG: Did you always want to be involved in public service?
GLORIA: Yes. I have always been drawn to serving my community. I volunteered a lot as a student. I started my career at the County of San Diego in the Department of Social Services and have never looked back. I feel fortunate to have a career that allows me to spend my time focused on making San Diego a better place to live for everyone.
PFLAG: Overall, why is higher education so important to San Diego’s LGBT Youth & community?
GLORIA: Knowledge is the currency of the 21st century economy. Higher education is what prepares today’s students to succeed in what is an increasing competitive environment where the talent pool is not only the students in your class, but students around the globe. In terms of the LGBT community, I believe that our youth have an obligation to build upon the opportunities created by our community’s trailblazers. If we want to continue our march toward full legal equality, we need well-educated young people capable of doing the hard work required in a civil rights movement.
PFLAG: If you could speak to any student who may be on the fence about applying, thinking they don’t have a chance or it’s too much work, what would you say to them?
GLORIA: I would encourage anyone who is considering applying for the PFLAG scholarship to just do it. We are fortunate to have a very generous community that wants to support our LGBT youth.