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Kristopher Allgaier

4435

Bold Points

3x

Nominee

2x

Finalist

Bio

Hi! I'm Kristopher, I use he/him/his pronouns, I am queer and autistic, and I want to be a high school music teacher and video game composer. In an age where arts programs are underfunded and neglected by schools, I want to give kids with passion like mine the ability to flourish, even when it seems impossible. I also want to be a teacher because, as a queer student, I have felt unsafe and not known where to go at school. I want to be the "trusted adult" that a queer student can go to if they are being bullied, just like the wonderful music teacher I had. Many of my hobbies are all in the arts, specifically music. I play many instruments, including but not limited to multiple styles and types of saxophones, piano, guitar, and bass. I also enjoy writing and producing my own music of many genres! I am also interested in activism, especially queer and disabled activism, but I will fight any fight for the sake of helping others.

Education

Riverside City College

Associate's degree program
2023 - 2025
  • Majors:
    • Music
  • Minors:
    • Music

Vista Murrieta High

High School
2019 - 2023

Miscellaneous

  • Desired degree level:

    Doctoral degree program (PhD, MD, JD, etc.)

  • Graduate schools of interest:

  • Transfer schools of interest:

  • Majors of interest:

    • Music
    • Education, Other
    • Fine and Studio Arts
  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:

      Music

    • Dream career goals:

      Be music teacher and composer

    • Team Member

      Brugger's Bagels
      2021 – 2021

    Sports

    Marching Band

    Varsity
    2019 – 20234 years

    Awards

    • Most Improved Member- 2019

    Research

    • Social Sciences, Other

      Thorn — Surveyer
      2022 – 2023
    • Sustainability Studies

      California Youth Climate Activists — Creative Director
      2020 – 2021

    Arts

    • Vista Murrieta Golden Alliance

      Music
      2019 – 2023
    • Vista Murrieta Jazz II

      Music
      2019 – 2021
    • San Diego Youth Pride Marching Band

      Music
      2022 – Present
    • Vista Murrieta Jazz I

      Music
      2022 – Present
    • Vista Murrieta Instrumental Music

      Music
      2019 – Present
    • Bravura Youth Symphonic Band

      Music
      2018 – 2020

    Public services

    • Volunteering

      California Youth Climate Activists — Creative Director
      2020 – 2021
    • Volunteering

      NoFiltr Youth Innovation Council, owned by Thorn. — Content Creation Leader
      2022 – 2023

    Future Interests

    Advocacy

    Volunteering

    Philanthropy

    Aspiring Musician Scholarship
    Music has been the driving force in my life for nearly the entirety of it so far. It all started when I was three years old and received some toy instruments for Christmas. I got a toy saxophone, a toy trumpet, and a cat-shaped keyboard. From that moment on, I was hooked. I knew the second I learned about the school band I would join on saxophone. The toy sax was my favorite of the three. I taught myself songs by ear and wrote my own. If you could even consider the series of noises I made a "song." Either way, I was in love. The wait until 5th grade was agonizing for me. I wanted a "real-live" saxophone! Until then, I took piano lessons in 2nd grade and listened to Debussy and Mozart on my little CD player/radio to sleep; I would steal my dad's Miles Davis CDs and sing along to Cannonball's solo on "All Blues." I was ecstatic when I finally got my "real-live" saxophone in 5th grade. I already knew how to read music, so I excelled in the class and got up in front of all my classmates during our little school concert and played "The Pink Panther." I was really good for a fifth-grader. After that, I was known around the school as "the saxophone kid." I was the coolest 5th grader in the school. The middle school band was even better. I got to play so much more than hot-cross-buns; I got to play "real music." I remember my first middle school concert perfectly: We played "The Tempest" by Robert W. Smith. Of course, it being middle school, I had a tough time. We didn't know that I was autistic, I had crippling anxiety and depression, and I had just realized that I was queer. So I struggled through middle school, going from pill to pill, trying to find a "normal" in possibly the most brutal years of my life; I was in therapy for my suicidal thoughts, but I remember telling my therapist, "Music is the only thing keeping me going." High school has been equally, if not more challenging, and music helped me navigate and express myself. Music was there when nobody else was, and I'm so grateful for it. I did marching band every year in high school. I've been in the wind ensemble and performed solo pieces such as "Ballad in Memory of Shirley Horn" by Richard Rodney Bennet in front of judges. I've also performed in the jazz band. I currently play 2nd Tenor in the school's top jazz band, soloing in the school's sold-out theater. Now here I am, graduating high school and enrolled at a community college to major in music next semester. I've come so far since my little toy saxophone. I will pursue a Ph.D. in music and help passionate students achieve happiness through music and self-expression; I want all the kids in love with their little toy instruments to continue to thrive through music.
    D’Andre J. Brown Memorial Scholarship
    Since I was born, I have struggled with mental issues. Being autistic made my school experience quite different from my neurotypical peers. As a child, I struggled with social interactions and communication. I found it challenging to make friends and understand the nuances of social situations. This made school a challenging experience for me. I often felt overwhelmed by the noise and chaos of the classroom, and I struggled to focus on my studies. In addition, my teachers didn't always understand my needs, which made things even harder. It got to the point that I only went to school for the band and then would skip the rest of my classes, but even music was becoming sour. In 2020, after a mental breakdown, I received an anxiety and bipolar disorder diagnosis. Before those diagnoses, going to school every day was a struggle. I would wake up feeling anxious about what the day would bring, and sometimes I would feel so low that I couldn't even get out of bed. Then, when I did manage to make it to class, I found it hard to concentrate on what the teacher said or complete assignments on time. After multiple hospitalizations, I gave up. It was so hard to get out of bed, and leaving the house was so nerve-wracking that I dropped out of high school right before classes became in-person again. I had been getting bullied when school was in person. In fact, I had been bullied since I was in elementary school for being autistic. I felt broken; I felt like I shouldn't even try anymore. However, after taking time off, experimenting with medication with a psychiatrist, seeking help from a therapist, and starting my gender-affirming care, I built up the courage to return to school in January 2022. I refused to give up. The main thing that kept me going was my love of music. I had no friends growing up, so I would retreat to music. Classical and jazz are my favorite, and I couldn't - and still can't - sleep without listening to one or the other. It was hard to make music when you had no access to a music program, so I sucked it up and returned to school. I know that because I'm autistic and have such a deep connection to music, I would make an exceptional music teacher. I know that high school's hard, especially as an autistic student. I can provide a space for students who feel misunderstood and need an adult to listen to them the way I wish I had. I know that the thing that helps the most is To reach these goals, I enrolled in a community college. I will be majoring in music starting in the fall of 2023. Then I will transfer to a 4-year and get my teaching credential. One day, I will get a Ph.D. and be a professor. It will take a lot of money, but I know it's worth it. I'm willing to pay any amount of money to pursue this dream and make it a reality. I want to go down in history not just as one of the best music educators in the world, admired for pushing through all the struggles of being autistic and helping students and blooming musicians flourish, but as a teacher who loved and cared for their students and helped them through tough times; I want to be remembered as a kind soul. I know I can do it.
    Donald A. Baker Foundation Scholarship
    My name is Kristopher, and I want to be a music teacher. Growing up queer and autistic, I faced many hardships; I was bullied all through elementary and middle school by students AND teachers. It only stopped when I completely isolated myself in high school. I didn't talk to anybody. I kept my eyes down and my headphones on. I wanted nothing more than a teacher who I could go to and who would understand. I needed a grown-up to listen to me and help me out. Unfortunately, in my entire school life, I only ever had one. Her name was Ms. C, and she was the music teacher at my middle school. Music has been my "special interest" for as long as I can remember, and even before that. So naturally, I would join the school's band despite the sensory overload of music class. Ms. C was one of the main reasons. She was young, passionate, calm, and kind, and I gravitated toward her immediately. She was so empathetic toward my struggles with being bullied; she also experienced bullying growing up. She let me eat lunch in her office and was always there for me to talk to; she was the first adult I ever came out to. But the only thing she couldn't provide was a complete understanding of my queer and autistic experience. Of course, I didn't expect that from her, and she was more than perfect at being a teacher and a trusted adult. Unfortunately, openly queer or autistic teachers are very uncommon. Prejudice against queer people and the lack of accessibility schools have for even their autistic students makes it completely understandable that someone who is both queer and autistic would avoid the field of education. However, the world needs more Ms. Cs; students need teachers who are passionate about their subject and can lend an ear. I am going to become a music teacher, no matter how much hate gets thrown my way and no matter how hard it will be. I know that I will be a fantastic teacher, not despite being autistic and queer, but BECAUSE I'm autistic and queer. I can provide a place where people passionate about music can feel safe and be that trusted adult a student can come to if they are getting bullied. I want to be like Ms. C and more. But most of all, I want to provide an example of a queer and autistic person who made it. Queer and autistic youth struggle with suicidal thoughts and actions, and I know I've thought, "Is it even worth it?" so many times. If a young queer person can see me thriving and happy, maybe it will help them keep going; if a young autistic person can see someone succeeding BECAUSE they are autistic, maybe they will pursue their dreams. It will be challenging, but thinking about Ms. C, 12-year-old me, and all the children like me makes it all worth it. Even if I improve one student's life, I will have fulfilled my purpose in life and will be happy.
    Diane Amendt Memorial Scholarship for the Arts
    My name is Kristopher, and I want to be a music teacher. Growing up queer and autistic, I faced many hardships; I was bullied all through elementary and middle school by students AND teachers. It only stopped when I completely isolated myself in high school. I didn't talk to anybody. I kept my eyes down and my headphones on. I wanted nothing more than a teacher who I could go to and who would understand. I needed a grown-up to listen to me and help me out. Unfortunately, in my entire school life, I only ever had one. Her name was Ms. C, and she was the music teacher at my middle school. Music has been my "special interest" for as long as I can remember, and even before that. So naturally, I would join the school's band despite the sensory overload of music class. Ms. C was one of the main reasons. She was young, passionate, calm, and kind, and I gravitated toward her immediately. She was so empathetic toward my struggles with being bullied; she also experienced bullying growing up. She let me eat lunch in her office and was always there for me to talk to; she was the first adult I ever came out to. But the only thing she couldn't provide was a complete understanding of my queer and autistic experience. Of course, I didn't expect that from her, and she was more than perfect at being a teacher and a trusted adult. Unfortunately, openly queer or autistic teachers are very uncommon. Prejudice against queer people and the lack of accessibility schools have for even their autistic students makes it completely understandable that someone who is both queer and autistic would avoid the field of education. However, the world needs more Ms. Cs; students need teachers who are passionate about their subject and can lend an ear. I am going to become a music teacher, no matter how much hate gets thrown my way and no matter how hard it will be. I know that I will be a fantastic teacher, not despite being autistic and queer, but BECAUSE I'm autistic and queer. I can provide a place where people passionate about music can feel safe and be that trusted adult a student can come to if they are getting bullied. I want to be like Ms. C and more. But most of all, I want to provide an example of a queer and autistic person who made it. Queer and autistic youth struggle with suicidal thoughts and actions, and I know I've thought, "Is it even worth it?" so many times. If a young queer person can see me thriving and happy, maybe it will help them keep going; if a young autistic person can see someone succeeding BECAUSE they are autistic, maybe they will pursue their dreams. It will be challenging, but thinking about Ms. C, 12-year-old me, and all the children like me makes it all worth it. Even if I improve one student's life, I will have fulfilled my purpose in life and will be happy.
    Donovan Ghimenti Legacy Scholarship
    Since I was born, I have struggled with mental issues. Being autistic made my school experience quite different from my neurotypical peers. As a child, I struggled with social interactions and communication. I found it challenging to make friends and understand the nuances of social situations. This made school a challenging experience for me. I often felt overwhelmed by the noise and chaos of the classroom, and I struggled to focus on my studies. In addition, my teachers didn't always understand my needs, which made things even harder. It got to the point that I only went to school for the band and then would skip the rest of my classes, but even music was becoming sour. In 2020, after a mental breakdown, I received an anxiety and bipolar disorder diagnosis. Before those diagnoses, going to school every day was a struggle. I would wake up feeling anxious about what the day would bring, and sometimes I would feel so low that I couldn't even get out of bed. Then, when I did manage to make it to class, I found it hard to concentrate on what the teacher said or complete assignments on time. After multiple hospitalizations, I gave up. It was so hard to get out of bed, and leaving the house was so nerve-wracking that I dropped out of high school right before classes became in-person again. I had been getting bullied when school was in person. In fact, I had been bullied since I was in elementary school for being autistic. I felt broken; I felt like I shouldn't even try anymore. However, after taking time off, experimenting with medication with a psychiatrist, seeking help from a therapist, and starting my gender-affirming care, I built up the courage to return to school in January 2022. The main thing that kept me going was my love of music. I had no friends growing up, so I would retreat to music. Classical and jazz are my favorite, and I couldn't - and still can't - sleep without listening to one or the other. It was hard to make music when you had no access to a music program, so I sucked it up and returned to school. I know that because I'm autistic and have such a deep connection to music, I would make an exceptional music teacher. I know that high school's hard, especially as an autistic student. I can provide a space for students who feel misunderstood and need an adult to listen to them the way I wish I had. I know that the thing that helps the most is To reach these goals, I enrolled in a community college. I will be majoring in music starting in the fall of 2023. College is less based on social currency, so I know that nobody will pick on me; there is no college "mean girls." People are there to pursue education by choice. Then I will transfer to a 4-year and get my teaching credential. One day, I will get a Ph.D. and be a professor. It will take a lot of money, but I know it's worth it. I'm willing to pay any amount of money to pursue this dream and make it a reality. I want to go down in history not just as one of the best music educators in the world, admired for pushing through all the struggles of being autistic and helping students and blooming musicians flourish, but as a teacher who loved and cared for their students and helped them through tough times. I know I can do it.
    Our Destiny Our Future Scholarship
    My name is Kristopher, I'm a queer and disabled student, and there is no better way to give back to your community than being a safe space and older brother to your fellow students. Despite the size of my school (3000 students), I am one of the few openly queer students. I live in Southern California, which, despite the progressive image, has some unkind people. When band summer camp started, young queer and disabled students from every instrument section gravitated toward me. I did not understand, as I am very average, leaning towards being a "bad influence" with my facial piercings and tattoos. But they admired me because I'm proud to be me. With that knowledge, I began hanging out with them, making group chats, buying them treats, and giving them the accepting older brother they all craved in a sea of intolerance. I learned a lot about mentorship through them: Be encouraging even if you're unsure. Lead by example. Lift them so they can take your place once you leave. That last one is the most important because I'm a senior leaving my little queer siblings, but I know that I need to make an impact so they can be for others who I was to them. I plan on going into music education and being a safe space for all students who don't have that love and safety at home. Music is such an intimate art form; if a picture speaks one thousand words, a song writes an entire novel. It is a universal language and a home for people of all backgrounds. When I was in middle school, I struggled with anxiety, depression, my undiagnosed autism, as well as being queer in a homophobic environment. I felt lost and alone until I met my music teacher. She was kind, patient, and passionate about music. She saw my love for the saxophone and lifted me. Under her teaching, I found happiness in music. She taught me how to use the instrument not as a tool but as an extension of the self to express my emotions. Every time I picked up my saxophone, it felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. But more than that, she made me feel safe. In her class, I didn't have to worry about the stresses of school or the outside world. It was just me and the music. As the years went by, my confidence grew. Then, finally, on the last day of 8th grade, she pulled me aside and told me something I will never forget: "You are the best saxophone player to ever come out of this school. You are going to go far." I joined the high school's marching band, wind ensemble, and jazz band. I even performed solos in front of judges and won awards. I am about to graduate high school, and I have thought about her every time I open my saxophone case since that day almost four years ago. I am now entering community college to major in music and get a teaching credential. I want to be like her and see young students lift that weight from their shoulders through self-expression. But most of all, I want them to have a safe space without fear of hatred and intolerance
    Jose Montanez Memorial Scholarship
    I was not in the foster care system. My name is Kristopher, I'm a queer and disabled student, and there is no better way to give back to your community than being a safe space and older brother to your fellow students. Despite the size of my school (3000 students), I am one of the few openly queer students. I live in Southern California, which, despite the progressive image, has some unkind people. When band summer camp started, young queer and disabled students from every instrument section gravitated toward me. I did not understand, as I am very average, leaning towards being a "bad influence" with my facial piercings and tattoos. But they admired me because I'm proud to be me. With that knowledge, I began hanging out with them, making group chats, buying them treats, and giving them the accepting older brother they all craved in a sea of intolerance. I learned a lot about mentorship through them: Be encouraging even if you're unsure. Lead by example. Lift them so they can take your place once you leave. That last one is the most important because I'm a senior leaving my little queer siblings, but I know that I need to make an impact so they can be for others who I was to them. I plan on going into music education and being a safe space for all students who don't have that love and safety at home. Music is such an intimate art form; if a picture speaks one thousand words, a song writes an entire novel. It is a universal language and a home for people of all backgrounds. When I was in middle school, I struggled with anxiety, depression, my undiagnosed autism, as well as being queer in a homophobic environment. I felt lost and alone until I met my music teacher. She was kind, patient, and passionate about music. She saw my love for the saxophone and lifted me. Under her teaching, I found happiness in music. She taught me how to use the instrument not as a tool but as an extension of the self to express my emotions. Every time I picked up my saxophone, it felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. But more than that, she made me feel safe. In her class, I didn't have to worry about the stresses of school or the outside world. It was just me and the music. As the years went by, my confidence grew. Then, finally, on the last day of 8th grade, she pulled me aside and told me something I will never forget: "You are the best saxophone player to ever come out of this school. You are going to go far." I joined the high school's marching band, wind ensemble, and jazz band. I even performed solos in front of judges and won awards. I am about to graduate high school, and I have thought about her every time I open my saxophone case since that day almost four years ago. I am now entering community college to major in music and get a teaching credential. I want to be like her and see young students lift that weight from their shoulders through self-expression. But most of all, I want them to have a safe space without fear of hatred and intolerance
    Brian J Boley Memorial Scholarship
    Since I was born, I have struggled with mental issues. Being autistic made my school experience quite different from my neurotypical peers. As a child, I struggled with social interactions and communication. I found it challenging to make friends and understand the nuances of social situations. This made school a challenging experience for me. I often felt overwhelmed by the noise and chaos of the classroom, and I struggled to focus on my studies. In addition, my teachers didn't always understand my needs, which made things even harder. It got to the point that I only went to school for the band and then would skip the rest of my classes, but even music was becoming sour. In 2020, after a mental breakdown, I received an anxiety and bipolar disorder diagnosis. Before those diagnoses, going to school every day was a struggle. I would wake up feeling anxious about what the day would bring, and sometimes I would feel so low that I couldn't even get out of bed. Then, when I did manage to make it to class, I found it hard to concentrate on what the teacher said or complete assignments on time. After multiple hospitalizations, I gave up. It was so hard to get out of bed, and leaving the house was so nerve-wracking that I dropped out of high school right before classes became in-person again. I had been getting bullied when school was in person. In fact, I had been bullied since I was in elementary school for being autistic. I felt broken; I felt like I shouldn't even try anymore. However, after taking time off, experimenting with medication with a psychiatrist, and seeking help from a therapist, I built up the courage to return to school in January 2022. I refused to give up. I found my people in the band program, people like me who were bullied and loved music, started thriving again. The main thing that kept me going was my love of music and my desire to become a music teacher. I had no friends growing up, so I would retreat to music. Classical and jazz are my favorite, and I couldn't - and still can't - sleep without listening to one or the other. I know there are kids out there like me; there are kids who get bullied and retreat to music. I want to be there for them and help them not only thrive in music, but thrive as people. To reach these goals, I enrolled in a community college. I will be majoring in music starting in the fall of 2023. College is less based on social currency, so I know that nobody will pick on me; there is no college "mean girls." People are there to pursue education by choice. Then I will transfer to a 4-year and get my teaching credential. One day, I will get a Ph.D. and be a professor. It will take a lot of money, but I know it's worth it. I'm willing to pay any amount of money to pursue this dream and make it a reality. I want to go down in history not just as one of the best music educators in the world, admired for pushing through all the struggles of being autistic and helping students and blooming musicians flourish, but as a teacher who loved and cared for their students and helped them through tough times; I want to be remembered as a kind soul. I know I can do it.
    Holt Scholarship
    I've been playing instruments since I was four years old. My parents were in the orchestra in high school but never continued after. They bought me toy instruments when I was little: A little toy saxophone, trumpet, and keyboard shaped like a cat. They never expected it would go far; they expected me to play baseball like everyone else in the family. However, those toys were the start of something big. Out of those three toys, the saxophone was my absolute favorite. I couldn't wait to be in the 5th-grade band and get my very own "real-live" saxophone. In the meantime, I got piano lessons and learned songs by ear. I played music with anything I could. Little toy harmonicas, recorders, pencils on tables, and anything else that made a sound was an instrument to me. I couldn't sleep if the little radio/cd player next to my bed was on the classical station or playing a Miles Davis CD I stole from my dad. Hitting 5th grade was so exciting. I was never a school kid; being an artistic and autistic kid, school never worked for me. So I waited every day until band sign-ups were finally here. Then, finally, I got my very own "real-live" saxophone! Since then, I've played saxophone nearly daily and performed for judges and audiences. In addition, I've been composing music of my own to perform and for fun. I've also done ensembles outside of school. "You're so good for your age!" The directors would say. "You don't play like an 8th grader! You play like a high school senior!" I am now 18 years old and a high school senior, and I'm more determined than ever to pursue a career in music. In five years, I see myself completing my master's degree in music composition and saxophone performance. I want to have my music performed for large, sold-out theaters and be world-renowned. Of course, getting there won't be easy. Being a composer is complicated; my only "paid projects" have been for friends. But I am determined. My passion and drive will be recognized, and my music will touch audiences. I write from the heart - not for money. I'm grateful for my little toy saxophone and the support my parents have given me over the years. I'm starting my music associate's degree in the fall and am excited to thrive amongst like-minded people finally.
    Charles Pulling Sr. Memorial Scholarship
    When I was a sophomore in high school, my mental health got the best of me. You would think that us being online for covid would have made school easy, but it only felt harder. I have never been the best student, but I went from Bs and Cs to straight Fs. I started experiencing panic attacks and depression that made logging on to Zoom calls impossible. Eventually, it got to the point where I couldn't keep up with my coursework and responsibilities anymore. I ended up being hospitalized, and once I was released, I made the difficult decision to drop out of school and take some time off to focus on my mental health. It was right before school was about to be in person again, but I knew I just wasn't ready. During that time, I worked with therapists and doctors to manage my anxiety and depression. It wasn't easy, but it was necessary for me to get back on track. After a year away from school, I decided it was time to return. It wasn't an easy decision, but when I abandoned school, I abandoned what I loved most: Music. I've been doing music since I was little, but my favorite was playing saxophone. I tried to find other hobbies and other options to pursue, but nothing was able to match the joy music brought me. Also, without school, I had no ensemble to play in. I knew private lessons weren't good enough and that I wanted to play in an ensemble again. It was so difficult going back. I had a few friends who went there and were in the music program, but otherwise, I didn't know anyone. I got lost on my way to class and didn't know how to talk to people. Thankfully, the music program welcomed me with open arms, and I flourished. Because of my dropping out, there is no possible way for me to graduate on time, so I'm pursuing my GED and have enrolled at a community college to major in music! Looking back, dropping out was one of the hardest things I've ever done. But coming back proved that you can push through and pursue your passions even when life gets tough.
    Taylor Swift ‘1989’ Fan Scholarship
    Taylor Swift blessed the world with 1989 in October 2014, and since then, it has become a core memory from my journey of self-discovery. Taylor Swift's 1989 album is a masterpiece, and all of its songs are incredible, but by far and away, my favorite song is "New Romantics." The track is an ode to being young, wild, and free in the modern world. It's a celebration of living life on your own terms and not letting anyone else dictate your path. It came out at the same time as my realization that "maybe I'm not a girl." I was going through a tough time as an 11-year-old who had to conceal all my feelings. So I bought 1989 on my iPod and listened to the songs over and over in my room. I still listen to it today, but for the most part, I'm listening to New Romantics on repeat. It's a song that speaks to me on so many levels. First, the lyrics are incredibly empowering. The song talks about being young and reckless, living life to the fullest, and not caring about what others think. It's a message that resonates and reminds me of how it felt when I first came out as gay and trans. I stopped being what everyone wanted me to be, a perfect, quiet, straight girl and bloomed happily as my true self: A loud, queer boy with many imperfections. The chorus really does feel like my queer experience. "'Cause baby, I could build a castle/ Out of all the bricks threw at me/ And every day is like a battle/ But every night with us is like a dream." Of course, people did not and do not like that I am queer. But "The best people in life are free." When I came out, I lost all of my friends (not an exaggeration), but I quickly met people who I didn't have pay with femininity and straightness; I made friends who love me for me. The upbeat tempo and catchy melody make "New Romantics" an instant classic. It's impossible not to dance along to the infectious beat. I remember playing the song on my iPod and dancing alone in my room in my "boy clothes," jumping around and feeling like the real me. Overall, "New Romantics" perfectly encapsulates Taylor Swift's message of self-love and empowerment. In addition, it's a song that inspires listeners to live boldly and fearlessly. For these reasons, it will always be my favorite track on Taylor's "1989."
    Lidia M. Wallace Memorial Scholarship
    My name is Kristopher, and I want to be a music teacher. Growing up queer and autistic, I faced many hardships; I was bullied all through elementary and middle school by students AND teachers. It only stopped when I completely isolated myself in high school. I didn't talk to anybody. I kept my eyes down and my headphones on. I wanted nothing more than a teacher who I could go to and who would understand. I needed a grown-up to listen to me and help me out. Unfortunately, in my entire school life, I only ever had one. Her name was Ms. C, and she was the music teacher at my middle school. Music has been my "special interest" for as long as I can remember, and even before that. So naturally, I would join the school's band despite the sensory overload of music class. Ms. C was one of the main reasons. She was young, passionate, calm, and kind, and I gravitated toward her immediately. She was so empathetic toward my struggles with being bullied; she also experienced bullying growing up. She let me eat lunch in her office and was always there for me to talk to; she was the first adult I ever came out to. But the only thing she couldn't provide was a complete understanding of my queer and autistic experience. Of course, I didn't expect that from her, and she was more than perfect at being a teacher and a trusted adult. Unfortunately, openly queer or autistic teachers are very uncommon. Prejudice against queer people and the lack of accessibility schools have for even their autistic students makes it completely understandable that someone who is both queer and autistic would avoid the field of education. However, the world needs more Ms. Cs; students need teachers who are passionate about their subject and can lend an ear. I am going to become a music teacher, no matter how much hate gets thrown my way and no matter how hard it will be. I know that I will be a fantastic teacher, not despite being autistic and queer, but BECAUSE I'm autistic and queer. I can provide a place where people who are passionate about music can feel safe and be that trusted adult a student can come to if they are getting bullied. I want to be like Ms. C and more. But most of all, I want to provide an example of a queer and autistic person who made it. Queer and autistic youth struggle with suicidal thoughts and actions, and I know I've thought, "Is it even worth it?" so many times. If a young queer person can see me thriving and happy, maybe it will help them keep going; if a young autistic person can see someone succeeding BECAUSE they are autistic, maybe they will pursue their dreams. It will be challenging, but thinking about Ms. C, 12-year-old me, and all the children like me makes it all worth it. Even if I improve one student's life, I will have fulfilled my purpose in life and will be happy.
    Joieful Connections Scholarship
    My name is Kristopher, and I want to be a teacher. Growing up queer and autistic, I faced many hardships; I was bullied all through elementary and middle school by students AND teachers. It only stopped when I completely isolated myself in high school. I didn't talk to anybody. I kept my eyes down and my headphones on. I wanted nothing more than a teacher who I could go to and who would understand. I needed a grown-up to listen to me and help me out. Unfortunately, in my entire school life, I only ever had one. Her name was Ms. C, and she was the music teacher at my middle school. Music has been my "special interest" for as long as I can remember, and even before that. So naturally, I would join the school's band despite the sensory overload of music class. Ms. C was one of the main reasons. She was young, passionate, calm, and kind, and I gravitated toward her immediately. She was so empathetic toward my struggles with being bullied; she also experienced bullying growing up. She let me eat lunch in her office and was always there for me to talk to; she was the first adult I ever came out to. But the only thing she couldn't provide was a complete understanding of my queer and autistic experience. Of course, I didn't expect that from her, and she was more than perfect at being a teacher and a trusted adult. Unfortunately, openly queer or autistic teachers are very uncommon. Prejudice against queer people and the lack of accessibility schools have for even their autistic students makes it completely understandable that someone who is both queer and autistic would avoid the field of education. However, the world needs more Ms. Cs; students need teachers who are passionate about their subject and can lend an ear. I am going to become a music teacher, no matter how much hate gets thrown my way and no matter how hard it will be. I know that I will be a fantastic teacher, not despite being autistic and queer, but BECAUSE I'm autistic and queer. I can provide a place where people who are passionate about music can feel safe and be that trusted adult a student can come to if they are getting bullied. I want to be like Ms. C and more. But most of all, I want to provide an example of a queer and autistic person who made it. Queer and autistic youth struggle with suicidal thoughts and actions, and I know I've thought, "Is it even worth it?" so many times. If a young queer person can see me thriving and happy, maybe it will help them keep going; if a young autistic person can see someone succeeding BECAUSE they are autistic, maybe they will pursue their dreams. It will be challenging, but thinking about Ms. C, 12-year-old me, and all the children like me makes it all worth it. Even if I improve one student's life, I will have fulfilled my purpose in life and will be happy.
    Elizabeth Schalk Memorial Scholarship
    Since I was born, I have struggled with mental issues. Being autistic made my school experience quite different from my neurotypical peers. As a child, I struggled with social interactions and communication. I found it challenging to make friends and understand the nuances of social situations. This made school a challenging experience for me. I often felt overwhelmed by the noise and chaos of the classroom, and I struggled to focus on my studies. In addition, my teachers didn't always understand my needs, which made things even harder. It got to the point that I only went to school for the band and then would skip the rest of my classes, but even music was becoming sour. In 2020, after a mental breakdown, I received an anxiety and bipolar disorder diagnosis. Before those diagnoses, going to school every day was a struggle. I would wake up feeling anxious about what the day would bring, and sometimes I would feel so low that I couldn't even get out of bed. Then, when I did manage to make it to class, I found it hard to concentrate on what the teacher said or complete assignments on time. After multiple hospitalizations, I gave up. It was so hard to get out of bed, and leaving the house was so nerve-wracking that I dropped out of high school right before classes became in-person again. I had been getting bullied when school was in person. In fact, I had been bullied since I was in elementary school for being autistic. I felt broken; I felt like I shouldn't even try anymore. However, after taking time off, experimenting with medication with a psychiatrist, and seeking help from a therapist, I built up the courage to return to school in January 2022. I refused to give up. The main thing that kept me going was my love of music. I had no friends growing up, so I would retreat to music. Classical and jazz are my favorite, and I couldn't - and still can't - sleep without listening to one or the other. It was hard to make music when you had no access to a music program, so I sucked it up and returned to school. I found my people in the band program, people like me who were bullied and loved music. Now, I am graduating in the summer and have enrolled in community college to pursue a music career.
    David Foster Memorial Scholarship
    Going into my senior year of high school, I was experiencing so much anxiety. Not only am I queer and trans, but I'm autistic and have dyscalculia. My entire school career has been rough, and all I wanted was a teacher who understood me. I found that teacher in Mx. S, my statistics teacher, and the Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) supervisor. I am what is called "stealth" in the transgender community. This means I present entirely as my gender, male, and nobody knows I was born a female. Naturally, this leads to anxiety and fear of being found out, but Mx. S made me feel safe. From the first day of class, Mx. S made it clear that their classroom was a space where everyone was welcome and respected. They used gender-neutral language and encouraged us to share our pronouns. This may seem like a small gesture, but it meant the world to me. They quickly became my favorite teacher, and they would let me spend my lunches in their classroom since I was getting bullied. They also helped me with my homework and would give me extra time on assignments because of my difficulty with numbers. However, I didn't tell them I was trans for the whole first semester. Even though I knew they would be the best to come out to, I was scared. Part of me wanted to just hide forever and isolate myself, but an even bigger part of me just wanted to be loved for who I am, transness and all. When the isolated feeling peaked, I came out to them and started crying. They cried and hugged me. They knew how hard it was to keep your identity a secret. I told them how I wanted to be proud of being trans, but I had to hide for my own safety, leading to self-hatred. Mx. S was an alumnus of the school they teach at; they had to conceal their queerness as well. They told me I could always come to them if I ever needed an adult to talk to. I plan on being a teacher and want to be just like Mx. S: caring, accepting, a listening ear, and a shoulder to cry on. If my students feel like they have nobody, I hope I can be somebody, just like Mx. S is to me. Maybe one day, one of my students will write an essay like this about me.
    Kiaan Patel Scholarship
    My name is Kristopher, I'm a queer and disabled student, and there is no better way to give back to your community than being a safe space and older brother to your fellow students. Despite the size of my school (3000 students), I am one of the few openly queer students. I live in Southern California, which, despite the progressive image, has some unkind people. When band summer camp started, young queer and disabled students from every instrument section gravitated toward me. I did not understand, as I am very average, leaning towards being a "bad influence" with my facial piercings and tattoos. But they admired me because I'm proud to be me. With that knowledge, I began hanging out with them, making group chats, buying them treats, and giving them the accepting older brother they all craved in a sea of intolerance. I learned a lot about mentorship through them: Be encouraging even if you're unsure. Lead by example. Lift them so they can take your place once you leave. That last one is the most important because I'm a senior leaving my little queer siblings, but I know that I need to make an impact so they can be for others who I was to them. I plan on going into music education and being a safe space for all students who don't have that love and safety at home. Music is such an intimate art form; if a picture speaks one thousand words, a song writes an entire novel. It is a universal language and a home for people of all backgrounds. When I was in middle school, I struggled with anxiety, depression, my undiagnosed autism, as well as being queer in a homophobic environment. I felt lost and alone until I met my music teacher. She was kind, patient, and passionate about music. She saw my love for the saxophone and lifted me. Under her teaching, I found happiness in music. She taught me how to use the instrument not as a tool but as an extension of the self to express my emotions. Every time I picked up my saxophone, it felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. But more than that, she made me feel safe. In her class, I didn't have to worry about the stresses of school or the outside world. It was just me and the music. As the years went by, my confidence grew. Then, finally, on the last day of 8th grade, she pulled me aside and told me something I will never forget: "You are the best saxophone player to ever come out of this school. You are going to go far." I joined the high school's marching band, wind ensemble, and jazz band. I even performed solos in front of judges and won awards. I am about to graduate high school, and I have thought about her every time I open my saxophone case since that day almost four years ago. I am now entering community college to major in music and get a teaching credential. I want to be like her and see young students lift that weight from their shoulders through self-expression. But most of all, I want them to have a safe space without fear of hatred and intolerance.
    Another Way Scholarship
    Being in high school as an autistic person is hard. I struggled to keep up with the confusing assignments, let alone the social norms and expectations that our non-autistic society expects; I was bullied often throughout elementary and middle school. It was difficult for me to understand the unspoken rules of social interaction, and I often felt isolated and alone. Masking is exhausting, and having to pretend to be someone else all the time makes me wonder if pursuing my dreams is even worth it. "Can I really be a music teacher when I'm like this?" But then I remember what I truly want out of being a teacher: to improve the life of students who struggle the way I do. Even though autism comes with challenges, I know I can push through and do great things, not despite being autistic, but because I'm autistic. When people didn't understand me, I knew music did. I've been doing various forms of music since I was 3. It started with little toys, then piano lessons, elementary and middle school band, and then high school marching band, wind ensemble, and jazz band! Instrumental music is my "special interest." That gives me a more profound understanding and connection to it than a non-autistic person. Music is my everything. Even though I was thriving in music, there were times when I felt like giving up. The pressure to fit in was overwhelming at times. I'm semi-verbal and sometimes can't speak, and my debilitating sensory issues lead to me not even coming to school many days. But through it all, I reminded myself that my differences made me unique. My autism gave me a different perspective on the world around me, allowing me to see things in a way that others couldn't. I know that because I'm autistic and have such a deep connection to music, I will make an exceptional music teacher. I know that high school's hard, especially as an autistic student. I can provide a space for students who feel misunderstood and need an adult to listen to them the way I wish I had. I know that the thing that helps the most is To reach these goals, I enrolled in a community college. I will be majoring in music starting in the fall of 2023. College is less based on social currency, so I know that nobody will pick on me; there is no college "mean girls." People are there to pursue education by choice. Then I will transfer to a 4-year and get my teaching credential. One day, I will get a Ph.D. and be a professor. It will take a lot of money, but I know it's worth it. I'm willing to pay any amount of money to pursue this dream and make it a reality. I want to go down in history not just as one of the best music educators in the world, admired for pushing through all the struggles of being autistic and helping students and blooming musicians flourish, but as a teacher who loved and cared for their students and helped them through tough times; I want to be remembered as a kind soul. I know I can do it.
    Elijah's Helping Hand Scholarship Award
    Since I was born, I have struggled with mental issues. Being autistic made my school experience quite different from my neurotypical peers. As a child, I struggled with social interactions and communication. I found it challenging to make friends and understand the nuances of social situations. This made school a challenging experience for me. I often felt overwhelmed by the noise and chaos of the classroom, and I struggled to focus on my studies. In addition, my teachers didn't always understand my needs, which made things even harder. It got to the point that I only went to school for the band and then would skip the rest of my classes, but even music was becoming sour. In 2020, after a mental breakdown, I received an anxiety and bipolar disorder diagnosis. Before those diagnoses, going to school every day was a struggle. I would wake up feeling anxious about what the day would bring, and sometimes I would feel so low that I couldn't even get out of bed. Then, when I did manage to make it to class, I found it hard to concentrate on what the teacher said or complete assignments on time. After multiple hospitalizations, I gave up. It was so hard to get out of bed, and leaving the house was so nerve-wracking that I dropped out of high school right before classes became in-person again. I had been getting bullied when school was in person. In fact, I had been bullied since I was in elementary school for being autistic. I felt broken; I felt like I shouldn't even try anymore. However, after taking time off, experimenting with medication with a psychiatrist, and seeking help from a therapist, I built up the courage to return to school in January 2022. I refused to give up. The main thing that kept me going was my love of music. I had no friends growing up, so I would retreat to music. Classical and jazz are my favorite, and I couldn't - and still can't - sleep without listening to one or the other. It was hard to make music when you had no access to a music program, so I sucked it up and returned to school. I found my people in the band program, people like me who were bullied and loved music. Now, I am graduating in the summer and have enrolled in community college to pursue a music career.
    Maverick Grill and Saloon Scholarship
    My name is Kristopher, I'm a queer and disabled student, and there is no better way to give back to your community than being a safe space and older brother to your fellow students. Despite the size of my school (3000 students), I am one of the few openly queer students. I live in Southern California, which, despite the progressive image, has some unkind people. When band summer camp started, young queer and disabled students from every instrument section gravitated toward me. I did not understand, as I am very average, leaning towards being a "bad influence" with my facial piercings and tattoos. But they admired me because I'm proud to be me. With that knowledge, I began hanging out with them, making group chats, buying them treats, and giving them the accepting older brother they all craved in a sea of intolerance. I learned a lot about mentorship through them: 1: Be encouraging even if you're unsure. 2: Lead by example. 3: Lift them so they can take your place once you leave. That last one is the most important because I'm a senior leaving my little queer siblings, but I know that I need to make an impact so they can be for others who I was to them. I plan on going into music education and being a safe space for all students who don't have that love and safety at home. Music is such an intimate art form; if a picture speaks one thousand words, a song writes an entire novel. It is a universal language and a home for people of all backgrounds. When I was in middle school, I struggled with anxiety, depression, my undiagnosed autism, as well as being queer in a homophobic environment. I felt lost and alone until I met my music teacher. She was kind, patient, and passionate about music. She saw my love for the saxophone and lifted me. Under her teaching, I found happiness in music. She taught me how to use the instrument not as a tool but as an extension of the self to express my emotions. Every time I picked up my saxophone, it felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. But more than that, she made me feel safe. In her class, I didn't have to worry about the stresses of school or the outside world. It was just me and the music. As the years went by, my confidence grew. Then, finally, on the last day of 8th grade, she pulled me aside and told me something I will never forget: "You are the best saxophone player to ever come out of this school. You are going to go far." I joined the high school's marching band, wind ensemble, and jazz band. I even performed solos in front of judges and won awards. I am about to graduate high school, and I have thought about her every time I open my saxophone case since that day almost four years ago. I am now entering community college to major in music and get a teaching credential. I want to be like her and see young students lift that weight from their shoulders through self-expression. But most of all, I want them to have a safe space without fear of hatred and intolerance.
    Dylan's Journey Memorial Scholarship
    Being in high school as an autistic person is hard. I struggled to keep up with the confusing assignments, let alone the social norms and expectations that our non-autistic society expects; I was bullied often throughout elementary and middle school. It was difficult for me to understand the unspoken rules of social interaction, and I often felt isolated and alone. Masking is exhausting, and having to pretend to be someone else all the time makes me wonder if pursuing my dreams is even worth it. "Can I really be a music teacher when I'm like this?" Despite these challenges, I know I can push through and do great things, not despite being autistic, but because I'm autistic. When people didn't understand me, I knew music did. I've been doing various forms of music since I was 3. It started with little toys, then piano lessons, elementary and middle school band, and then high school marching band, wind ensemble, and jazz band! Instrumental music is my "special interest." That gives me a more profound understanding and connection to it than a non-autistic person. Music is my everything. Even though I was thriving in music, there were times when I felt like giving up. The pressure to fit in was overwhelming at times. I'm semi-verbal and sometimes can't speak, and my debilitating sensory issues lead to me not even coming to school many days. But through it all, I reminded myself that my differences made me unique. My autism gave me a different perspective on the world around me, allowing me to see things in a way that others couldn't. I know that because I'm autistic and have such a deep connection to music, I will make an exceptional music teacher. I know that high school's hard, especially as an autistic student. I can provide a space for students who feel misunderstood and need an adult to listen to them the way I wish I had. To reach these goals, I enrolled in a community college. I will be majoring in music starting in the fall of 2023. College is less based on social currency, so I know that nobody will pick on me; there is no college "mean girls." People are there to pursue education by choice. Then I will transfer to a 4-year and get my teaching credential. One day, I will get a Ph.D. and be a professor. It will take a lot of money, but I know it's worth it. I'm willing to pay any amount of money to pursue this dream and make it a reality. I want to go down in history as one of the best music educators in the world, admired for pushing through all the struggles of being autistic and helping students and blooming musicians flourish. I know I can do it.
    "Aunty" Geri Kuhia Tribute Scholarship
    I've been playing instruments since I was four years old. My parents were in the orchestra in high school but never continued after. They bought me toy instruments when I was little: A little toy saxophone, trumpet, and keyboard shaped like a cat. They never expected it would go far; they expected me to play baseball like everyone else in the family. However, those toys were the start of something big. Out of those three toys, the saxophone was my absolute favorite. I couldn't wait to be in the 5th-grade band and get my very own "real-live" saxophone. In the meantime, I got piano lessons and learned songs by ear. I played music with anything I could. Little toy harmonicas, recorders, pencils on tables, and anything else that made a sound was an instrument to me. I couldn't sleep if the little radio/cd player next to my bed was on the classical station or playing a Miles Davis CD I stole from my dad. Hitting 5th grade was so exciting. I was never a school kid; being an artistic and autistic kid, school never worked for me. So I waited every day until band sign-ups were finally here. Then, finally, I got my very own "real-live" saxophone! Since then, I've played saxophone nearly daily and performed for judges and audiences. In addition, I've been composing music of my own to perform and for fun. I've also done ensembles outside of school. "You're so good for your age!" The directors would say. "You don't play like an 8th grader! You play like a high school senior!" I am now 18 years old and a high school senior, and I'm more determined than ever to pursue a career in music. In five years, I see myself completing my master's degree in music composition and saxophone performance. I want to have my music performed for large, sold-out theaters and be world-renowned. Of course, getting there won't be easy. Being a composer is complicated; my only "paid projects" have been for friends. But I am determined. My passion and drive will be recognized, and my music will touch audiences. I write from the heart - not for money. I'm grateful for my little toy saxophone and the support my parents have given me over the years. I'm starting my music associate's degree in the fall and am excited to thrive amongst like-minded people finally.
    Ruth Hazel Scruggs King Scholarship
    My name is Kristopher, and I want to be a teacher. Growing up queer and autistic, I faced many hardships; I was bullied all through elementary and middle school by students AND teachers. It only stopped when I completely isolated myself in high school. I didn't talk to anybody. I kept my eyes down and my headphones on. I wanted nothing more than a teacher who I could go to and who would understand. I needed a grown-up to listen to me and help me out. Unfortunately, in my entire school life, I only ever had one. Her name was Ms. C, and she was the music teacher at my middle school. Music has been my "special interest" for as long as I can remember, and even before that. So naturally, I would join the school's band despite the sensory overload of music class. Ms. C was one of the main reasons. She was young, passionate, calm, and kind, and I gravitated toward her immediately. She was so empathetic toward my struggles with being bullied; she also experienced bullying growing up. She let me eat lunch in her office and was always there for me to talk to; she was the first adult I ever came out to. But the only thing she couldn't provide was a complete understanding of my queer and autistic experience. Of course, I didn't expect that from her, and she was more than perfect at being a teacher and a trusted adult. Unfortunately, openly queer or autistic teachers are very uncommon. Prejudice against queer people and the lack of accessibility schools have for even their autistic students makes it completely understandable that someone who is both queer and autistic would avoid the field of education. However, the world needs more Ms. Cs; students need teachers who are passionate about their subject and can lend an ear. I am going to become a music teacher, no matter how much hatred gets thrown my way and no matter how hard it will be. I know that I will be a fantastic teacher, not despite being autistic and queer, but BECAUSE I'm autistic and queer. I can provide a place where people who are passionate about music can feel safe and be that trusted adult a student can come to if they are getting bullied. I want to be like Ms. C and more. But most of all, I want to provide an example of a queer and autistic person who made it. Queer and autistic youth struggle with suicidal thoughts and actions, and I know I've thought, "Is it even worth it?" so many times. If a young queer person can see me thriving and happy, maybe it will help them keep going; if a young autistic person can see someone succeeding BECAUSE they are autistic, maybe they will pursue their dreams. It will be challenging, but thinking about Ms. C, 12-year-old me, and all the children like me makes it all worth it. Even if I improve one student's life, I will have fulfilled my purpose in life and will be happy.
    Will Johnson Scholarship
    Being in high school as an autistic person is hard. I struggle to keep up with the social norms and expectations that our non-autistic society expects; I was bullied often throughout elementary and middle school. It was difficult for me to understand the unspoken rules of social interaction, and I often felt isolated and alone. Masking is exhausting, and having to pretend to be someone else all the time makes me wonder if pursuing my dreams is even worth it. "Can I really be a music teacher when I'm like this?" Despite these challenges, I know I can push through and do great things, not despite being autistic, but because I'm autistic. When people didn't understand me, I knew music did. I've been doing various forms of music since I was 3. It started with little toys, then piano lessons, elementary and middle school band, and then high school marching band, wind ensemble, and jazz band! Instrumental music is my "special interest." That gives me a more profound understanding and connection to it than a non-autistic person. Music is my everything. Even though I was thriving in music, there were times when I felt like giving up. The pressure to fit in was overwhelming at times. I'm semi-verbal and sometimes can't speak, and my debilitating sensory issues lead to me not even coming to school many days. But through it all, I reminded myself that my differences made me unique. My autism gave me a different perspective on the world around me, allowing me to see things in a way that others couldn't. I know that because I'm autistic and have such a deep connection to music, I will make an exceptional music teacher. I know that high school's hard, especially as an autistic student. I can provide a space for students who feel misunderstood and need an adult to listen to them the way I wish I had. To reach these goals, I enrolled in a community college. I will be majoring in music starting in the fall of 2023. College is less based on social currency, so I know that nobody will pick on me; there is no college "mean girls." People are there to pursue education by choice. Then I will transfer to a 4-year and get my teaching credential. One day, I will get a Ph.D. and be a professor. I want to go down in history as one of the best music educators in the world, admired for pushing through all the struggles of being autistic and helping students and blooming musicians flourish. I know I can do it.
    Lillian's & Ruby's Way Scholarship
    Hi! My name is Kristopher. I am a transgender and autistic individual with a passion for music. Growing up, I struggled to find my place in the world- I was often bullied and left out due to how "weird" I was. But music was always there for me. I was hooked when I played the piano for the first time; I fell in love when I picked up the saxophone. If an image speaks a thousand words, a song can write novels. Especially as a semi-verbal autistic person, music speaks entire libraries for me. Music provided me with an outlet to express myself and connect with others. As I got older, I realized I wanted to use my love of music and the adversity I faced to help others like me. I want to become a music teacher and help queer and autistic kids that may feel isolated or misunderstood. Being both transgender and autistic has given me a unique perspective on the world, and I believe that this can be an asset in helping others. I grew up with a girl's experience and many of the hardships of being a young girl, such as menstruating and getting cat-called at a very young age; I have lived my teenage years as a boy and seen the many struggles boys face, like toxic masculinity and depression that results from it. My experience growing up autistic has given me so much empathy for those who are different, as I have been bullied for my differences my whole life. With my experiences, I know I can be there for young queer and autistic people who are bullied or need a grown-up to listen to them. I know firsthand how important it is to have someone in your life who understands you and accepts you for who you are. I want to use my experiences to my advantage and turn all of these negative experiences into tools for change. My understanding and ability to stand in others' shoes make me a kind and knowledgeable leader; growing up facing adversity has given me the strength to fight for others and lead by example. As a music teacher, I hope to give my students the sense of acceptance and belonging I craved when entering my school's band. We can create a community where everyone feels valued and supported through music. In pursuing this dream, I have faced many challenges along the way. But every obstacle has only made me more determined to succeed. With hard work and dedication, I know that one day I will be able to make a difference in the lives of queer kids through the power of music.
    Strength in Neurodiversity Scholarship
    Growing up, I always felt like an outsider. I was a sad kid who never seemed to fit in; connecting with my peers and feeling like I belonged was challenging. All I had were my instruments and my love for music. When I couldn't speak, music could. Additionally, I knew I was queer from a very young age, impacting my mental health dramatically. My favorite dreams when I was younger were when I was a boy holding hands with another boy "the way mommy and daddy do." Adults always laughed at these dreams. "You're just a tomboy!" "She just has the biggest imagination, doesn't she?" When I was 15, I was diagnosed with Bipolar 2 and Anxiety. Later, when I was 17, I was diagnosed with autism. The late realization led to a period of grief. How did nobody see the signs? I would say to myself. Did nobody care enough to speak up and say anything? About a year later, I learned that people assigned female at birth (AFAB) are less likely to be diagnosed with autism and that it wasn't the fault of anyone that I struggled with. They didn't know. So many studies on autism focus on people who were assigned male at birth (AFAB). AFAB people like myself are taught to hide the autistic traits, or "mask," which leads to a special kind of burnout that autistic people experience. My prolonged masking has led to a kind of exhaustion that has lasted over a year. If I had just been born a boy, maybe this wouldn't have happened. I think to myself. I don't know when or if I will begin to feel better, but I realized that my experiences growing up struggling with mental health and a lack of acceptance as a queer child, along with my adoration for music, would make me a good teacher. Last month, I finally enrolled as a music major and decided to become a music teacher. I want to be there for struggling teens in a way that no one was there for me when I was their age. By sharing my own experiences as a queer person, being the "trusted adult" a student can come to, and providing a safe space for them to express themselves, I hope to make a difference in the lives of students like me: students who want someone to listen and hear them out - Students who don't just have a "big imagination," but big feelings. It won't be easy - teaching is a challenging profession - but it's something that feels right for me. The sensory overload that is school and the hostility towards queer and transgender teachers especially make me feel nervous, but I know it will be worth it. If I don't fight to be able to help students with mental health issues and queer students, who will? I know that despite all of my struggles, I can rise, and I can help people.
    Elevate Mental Health Awareness Scholarship
    Growing up, I always felt like an outsider. I was a sad kid who never seemed to fit in; connecting with my peers and feeling like I belonged was challenging. All I had were my instruments and my love for music. When I couldn't speak, music could. Additionally, I knew I was queer from a very young age, impacting my mental health dramatically. My favorite dreams when I was younger were when I was a boy holding hands with another boy "the way mommy and daddy do." Adults always laughed at these dreams. "You're just a tomboy!" "She just has the biggest imagination, doesn't she?" When I was 15, I was diagnosed with Bipolar 2 and Anxiety. Later, when I was 17, I was diagnosed with autism. The late realization led to a period of grief. How did nobody see the signs? I would say to myself. Did nobody care enough to speak up and say anything? About a year later, I learned that people assigned female at birth (AFAB) are less likely to be diagnosed with autism and that it wasn't the fault of anyone that I struggled with. They didn't know. So many studies on autism focus on people who were assigned male at birth (AFAB). AFAB people like myself are taught to hide the autistic traits, or "mask," which leads to a special kind of burnout that autistic people experience. My prolonged masking has led to a kind of exhaustion that has lasted over a year. If I had just been born a boy, maybe this wouldn't have happened. I think to myself. I don't know when or if I will begin to feel better, but I realized that my experiences growing up struggling with mental health and a lack of acceptance as a queer child, along with my adoration for music, would make me a good teacher. Last month, I finally enrolled as a music major and decided to become a music teacher. I want to be there for struggling teens in a way that no one was there for me when I was their age. By sharing my own experiences as a queer person, being the "trusted adult" a student can come to, and providing a safe space for them to express themselves, I hope to make a difference in the lives of students like me: students who want someone to listen and hear them out - Students who don't just have a "big imagination," but big feelings. It won't be easy - teaching is a challenging profession - but it's something that feels right for me. The sensory overload that is school and the hostility towards queer and transgender teachers especially make me feel nervous, but I know it will be worth it. If I don't fight to be able to help students with mental health issues and queer students, who will? I know that despite all of my struggles, I can rise, I can help, and I can make a better future for queer and autistic children.
    Ethel Hayes Destigmatization of Mental Health Scholarship
    Growing up, I always felt like an outsider. I was a sad kid who never seemed to fit in; connecting with my peers and feeling like I belonged was challenging. All I had were my instruments and my love for music. When I couldn't speak, music could. Additionally, I knew I was queer from a very young age, impacting my mental health dramatically. My favorite dreams when I was younger were when I was a boy holding hands with another boy "the way mommy and daddy do." Adults always laughed at these dreams. "You're just a tomboy!" "She just has the biggest imagination, doesn't she?" When I was 15, I was diagnosed with Bipolar 2 and Anxiety. Later, when I was 17, I was diagnosed with autism. The late realization led to a period of grief. How did nobody see the signs? I would say to myself. Did nobody care enough to speak up and say anything? About a year later, I learned that people assigned female at birth (AFAB) are less likely to be diagnosed with autism and that it wasn't the fault of anyone that I struggled with. They didn't know. So many studies on autism focus on people who were assigned male at birth (AFAB). AFAB people like myself are taught to hide the autistic traits, or "mask," which leads to a special kind of burnout that autistic people experience. My prolonged masking has led to a kind of exhaustion that has lasted over a year. If I had just been born a boy, maybe this wouldn't have happened. I think to myself. I don't know when or if I will begin to feel better, but I realized that my experiences growing up struggling with mental health and a lack of acceptance as a queer child, along with my adoration for music, would make me a good teacher. Last month, I finally enrolled as a music major and decided to become a music teacher. I want to be there for struggling teens in a way that no one was there for me when I was their age. By sharing my own experiences as a queer person, being the "trusted adult" a student can come to, and providing a safe space for them to express themselves, I hope to make a difference in the lives of students like me: students who want someone to listen and hear them out - Students who don't just have a "big imagination," but big feelings. It won't be easy - teaching is a challenging profession - but it's something that feels right for me. The sensory overload that is school and the hostility towards queer and transgender teachers especially make me feel nervous, but I know it will be worth it. If I don't fight to be able to help students with mental health issues and queer students, who will? I know that despite all of my struggles, I can rise, and I can help people.
    Trever David Clark Memorial Scholarship
    Growing up, I always felt like an outsider. I was a sad kid who never seemed to fit in; connecting with my peers and feeling like I belonged was challenging. All I had were my instruments and my love for music. When I couldn't speak, music could. Additionally, I knew I was queer from a very young age, impacting my mental health dramatically. My favorite dreams when I was younger were when I was a boy holding hands with another boy "the way mommy and daddy do." Adults always laughed at these dreams. "You're just a tomboy!" "She just has the biggest imagination, doesn't she?" When I was 15, I was diagnosed with Bipolar 2 and Anxiety. Later, when I was 17, I was diagnosed with autism. The late realization led to a period of grief. How did nobody see the signs? I would say to myself. Did nobody care enough to speak up and say anything? About a year later, I learned that people assigned female at birth (AFAB) are less likely to be diagnosed with autism and that it wasn't the fault of anyone that I struggled with. They didn't know. So many studies on autism focus on people who were assigned male at birth (AFAB). AFAB people like myself are taught to hide the autistic traits, or "mask," which leads to a special kind of burnout that autistic people experience. My prolonged masking has led to a kind of exhaustion that has lasted over a year. If I had just been born a boy, maybe this wouldn't have happened. I think to myself. I don't know when or if I will begin to feel better, but I realized that my experiences growing up struggling with mental health and a lack of acceptance as a queer child, along with my adoration for music, would make me a good teacher. Last month, I finally enrolled as a music major and decided to become a music teacher. I want to be there for struggling teens in a way that no one was there for me when I was their age. By sharing my own experiences as a queer person, being the "trusted adult" a student can come to, and providing a safe space for them to express themselves, I hope to make a difference in the lives of students like me: students who want someone to listen and hear them out - Students who don't just have a "big imagination," but big feelings. It won't be easy - teaching is a challenging profession - but it's something that feels right for me. The sensory overload that is school and the hostility towards queer and transgender teachers especially make me feel nervous, but I know it will be worth it. If I don't fight to be able to help students with mental health issues and queer students, who will? I know that despite all of my struggles, I can rise, and I can help people.
    I Can Do Anything Scholarship
    In the future, I will be a professional saxophonist with a P.h.D. in music, and musicians worldwide will recognize me as one of the best contemporary saxophonists of all time!
    Sunni E. Fagan Memorial Music Scholarship
    Music has been the driving force in my life for nearly the entirety of it so far. It all started when I was three years old and received some toy instruments for Christmas. I got a toy saxophone, a toy trumpet, and a cat-shaped keyboard. From that moment on, I was hooked. I knew the second I learned about the school band I would join on saxophone. The toy sax was my favorite of the three. I taught myself songs by ear and wrote my own. If you could even consider the series of noises I made a "song." Either way, I was in love. The wait until 5th grade was agonizing for me. I wanted a "real-live" saxophone! Until then, I took piano lessons in 2nd grade and listened to Debussy and Mozart on my little CD player/radio to sleep; I would steal my dad's Miles Davis CDs and sing along to Cannonball's solo on "All Blues." I was ecstatic when I finally got my "real-live" saxophone in 5th grade. I already knew how to read music, so I excelled in the class and got up in front of all my classmates during our little school concert and played "The Pink Panther." I was really good for a fifth-grader. After that, I was known around the school as "the saxophone kid." I was the coolest 5th grader in the school. The middle school band was even better. I got to play so much more than hot-cross-buns; I got to play "real music." I remember my first middle school concert perfectly: We played "The Tempest" by Robert W. Smith. Of course, it being middle school, I had a tough time. We didn't know that I was autistic, I had crippling anxiety and depression, and I had just realized that I was queer. So I struggled through middle school, going from pill to pill, trying to find a "normal" in possibly the most brutal years of my life; I was in therapy for my suicidal thoughts, but I remember telling my therapist, "Music is the only thing keeping me going." High school has been equally, if not more challenging, and music helped me navigate and express myself. Music was there when nobody else was, and I'm so grateful for it. I did marching band every year in high school. I've been in the wind ensemble and performed solo pieces such as "Ballad in Memory of Shirley Horn" by Richard Rodney Bennet in front of judges. I've also performed in the jazz band. I currently play 2nd Tenor in the school's top jazz band, soloing in the school's sold-out theater. Now here I am, graduating high school and enrolled at a community college to major in music next semester. I've come so far since my little toy saxophone. I will pursue a Ph.D. in music and help passionate students achieve happiness through music and self-expression; I want all the kids in love with their little toy instruments to continue to thrive through music.
    Community Pride Scholarship
    My name is Kristopher, I'm a queer and disabled student, and there is no better way to give back to your community than being a safe space and older brother to your fellow students. Despite the size of my school (3000 students), I am one of the few openly queer students. I live in Southern California, which, despite the progressive image, has some unkind people. When band summer camp started, young queer and disabled students from every instrument section gravitated toward me. I did not understand, as I am very average, leaning towards being a "bad influence" with my facial piercings and tattoos. But they admired me because I'm proud to be me. With that knowledge, I began hanging out with them, making group chats, buying them treats, and giving them the accepting older brother they all craved in a sea of intolerance. I learned a lot about mentorship through them: -Be encouraging even if you're unsure. -Lead by example. -Lift them so they can take your place once you leave. That last one is the most important because I'm a senior leaving my little queer siblings, but I know that I need to make an impact so they can be for others who I was to them. I plan on going into music education and being a safe space for all students who don't have that love and safety at home. Music is such an intimate art form; if a picture speaks one thousand words, a song writes an entire novel. It is a universal language and a home for people of all backgrounds. When I was in middle school, I struggled with anxiety, depression, my undiagnosed autism, as well as being queer in a homophobic environment. I felt lost and alone until I met my music teacher. She was kind, patient, and passionate about music. She saw my love for the saxophone and lifted me. Under her teaching, I found happiness in music. She taught me how to use the instrument not as a tool but as an extension of the self to express my emotions. Every time I picked up my saxophone, it felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. But more than that, she made me feel safe. In her class, I didn't have to worry about the stresses of school or the outside world. It was just me and the music. As the years went by, my confidence grew. Then, finally, on the last day of 8th grade, she pulled me aside and told me something I will never forget: "You are the best saxophone player to ever come out of this school. You are going to go far." I joined the high school's marching band, wind ensemble, and jazz band. I even performed solos in front of judges and won awards. I am about to graduate high school, and I have thought about her every time I open my saxophone case since that day almost four years ago. I am now entering community college to major in music and get a teaching credential. I want to be like her and see young students lift that weight from their shoulders through self-expression. But most of all, I want them to have a safe space without fear of hatred and intolerance.
    Amelia Michelle Sanford LGBTQIA+ Memorial Scholarship
    Living as a transgender man in a place where transgender people face lots of bullying, my main struggle has been trying to find a place where I can feel safe. It got so bad that I’m “stealth,” which means nobody knows I’m trans; they all think I’m a Cis Man (not a trans man.) While it’s great that I can get away with it, I live in constant fear at school of “my secret” coming out. I wish I had a teacher I could go to, but since I haven’t, I am instead going to become that teacher. I want to be a music teacher and be the trusted adult that transgender students can feel safe around; I want to be the teacher with the classroom open for lunch and that students feel safe around. I don’t know how easy it’ll be to be a transgender teacher in the future, but I want transgender students to see an adult who’s had the same struggles as them who survived; I want to be living proof to teenagers that it gets better. That is my plan for the future.
    Your Dream Music Scholarship
    While not having lyrics, Claire de Lune by Claude Debussy is one of the most powerful, emotional songs ever composed. The piece, meaning "Moonlight" in French, is six minutes of tranquility, beauty, and solace. However, its lack of words may make it seem like there's no message to grasp, but the beauty of instrumental music is personal interpretation. To me, this piece says, "It's ok to be sad; sadness fades." For Claire de Lune, Debussy took lots of inspiration from poet Paul Verlaine's poem of the same name. The poem describes one's soul as a "chosen landscape" for a place full of music, but the music described is "Sad beneath their fantasy-disguises." In addition, the music is in "minor mode." The song has a considerable portion written in C-sharp minor, considered a "sad key." The song described in the poem is "Of all-conquering love and life so kind to them." However, the following line reads, "They do not seem to believe in their good fortune, And their song mingles with the moonlight," The final stanza describes the moonlight as "sad and lovely," which are adjectives that seem to contradict each other but are quite the contrary. Sadness is a human emotion, and it is okay to feel that way. Unfortunately, in their pursuit of "positivity," many forget it is okay to feel "negative" emotions. This song significantly impacted my life during a major depressive episode and felt like a hug. I struggled in school and marching band, two important things to me. Our year's show, "Luna," contained Claire de Lune. The song's swelling overwhelmed me at one point, and I started crying. But that's okay. Sadness swells and eventually fades as the song does. That's why it is so important; it will fade. When I'm sad, it's still my go-to.
    Bold Loving Others Scholarship
    At my school, I run a hotline through Remind for students to vent, receive help, and find resources. Mental health issues are a pandemic in high schools, so as someone who has been through a lot and knows healthy coping mechanism, I am going to use that strength