Spirit of Drew Scholarship Winner: Dalton Vanderford

Over the next month, we want to introduce you to the scholarship recipient class of 2019. These students were asked prompts on how they would either improve our GSA Guide or how they plan on using it. We hope you enjoy their thoughtful responses! Below, you will see a response from Dalton Vanderford, who will be attending USF in the fall:


As a gay person from Plant City, there are a plethora of injustices that LGBTQ+ people face on a daily basis. Living in a conservative community, there is not much support available. I chose not to graduate last year so i could remain president of the GSA at plant city high school to ensure its success in the years after i graduate. If I received a Dru Project scholarship, it would empower me to give back to the community, I have hopes and dreams of starting a PFLAG, a youth alliance and as many LGBT support systems for everyone as I can make. Soon I will be off to college, but i do not want to go until there are programs in place to help those that remain. I have worked with GLSEN tampa bay and the Hillsborough county school board to create an LGBTQ+ equity guide, I was the guest speaker at the GLSEN Tampa Bay’s annual fundraiser and i still want to do more.

There are many beneficial items to read within the guide book, however the part I feel is the most beneficial is the part about taking action. Many are a part of the LGBTQ+ community or allies, but many are not active within their role. It does not take much to be active within your role, so everyone should be! It can be as simple as not letting your friends bully members of the LGBTQ+ community, offering an LGBTQ+ kid to sit at your table at lunch, speaking advocacy, etc. Or you can take it to the next level such as campaigning for LGBTQ+ issues in politics, fostering youth who have been kicked out of their home for being LGBTQ+ or volunteering! Due to inactivity among youth, I feel this section would help drum up participation among youth and help them get more involved.