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Payton Marrison


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My biggest life goal is to have my own queer and female focused record label. I would make a great candidate because I am focused, determined, and I have persevered through all of life's challenges. I am most passionate about live music and making country music a more inclusive space for the POC community, the LGBTQ+ community, and women.


Michigan Great Lakes Virtual Academy

High School
2022 - 2024


  • Desired degree level:

    Associate's degree program

  • Majors of interest:

    • Business/Corporate Communications
    • Communication, Journalism, and Related Programs, Other
  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:

      music business

    • Dream career goals:


      Public services

      • Volunteering

        caring and sharing event helper
        2021 – Present

      Future Interests






      Book Lovers Scholarship
      If I could have everyone in the world read one book I would have them read Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Pérez. Invisible Women completely altered my world view and revealed the many disparities between women and men. It is essentially 400 pages of statistics on how the systems of the world we live in are marginalizing women. It opened my eyes to imbalances and injustice that are, in fact, invisible; even to those being harmed by it. From car crash dummies being based on male bodies, to invisible labor, to average room temperatures, to drug trials being almost exclusively tested on men, Invisible Women was rage inducing, jaw dropping, and eye opening. It made me question the very bounds of the world I live in. I think that if everyone in the world were to read Invisible Women some of the gaps that come to light while reading it would be rectified. Most women don't even know the lengths to which the modern world is unintended for them. If people were forced to see the disparities and injustice that all women live with on a daily basis, they could see how unattainable it is for us to be expected to reach the same levels as men, when the systems we live in are not intended for us to do so. In conclusion, I believe everyone should read Invisible Women. It could help breach the gap between women and men and help people to see how inadequate and unsafe this world is for women. It would educate the population on the disparities and injustice of the modern world.
      PRIDE in Education Award
      Hello! I'm Payton. My entire life can be summed into books, football, and my love for live music. I myself love books, and have found solace is diving headfirst into any book thrown my way, but I particularly love reading about queer love. I have a tendency to make my hobbies my entire personality, and my love for reading is definitely one of those. If you ask anyone who knows me, they could name at least five books I have info dumped about to them. I have an entire Instagram account dedicated to my love for reading. I grew up around football, it is in my blood. When I was a kid we would watch my cousins play high school football on Fridays, use our season tickets to go see Michigan State play on Saturdays, and watch the lions and whatever team Peyton Manning (my namesake) played for on Sundays, Mondays, and/or Thursdays. My friends often explain my love for football as "that rivaling a frat boy". I have loved live music for as long as I can remember. I went to my first concert when I was two, and I've never looked back. I've been to concerts in stadiums, corn fields, on street corners, and many places in between. I have always wanted to do something in the music industry, but as a queer person, my dream is to work at carving a place for LGBTQ+ artists in the country music world. I will start this journey at Belmont University where I will major in Music Business. It will take many years of climbing the mountain that is the country music industry, but I dream of having my own record label of exclusively LGBTQ+ artists. I remember when I saw a queer country artist live for the first time after growing up going to exclusively country concerts, it was something I hope every queer country music listener gets to experience. The country music industry would like people to believe that there is no space for queer artists, that there are no queer country music fans, and that queer country music does not exist, but that is simply not true. I hope to elevate queer artists so that they can be found by queer fans, and can reach the same levels straight people with the same amount of talent can reach. I truly think that having easily accessible queer country music and artists will save many lives.
      VNutrition & Wellness’ Annual LGBTQ+ Vitality Scholarship
      With my degree in Music Business at Belmont University I plan to start carving out a space for queer artists apart of the country music industry. Currently, the charts and radio would have you to believe that there are no LGBTQIA+ country singers, let alone space for them to exist, but that is simply not true. We have been silenced for generations and told that country music fans are not queer, but I am living proof that that is not true. I am queer and I grew up listening to country music and going to country concerts, and there are many like me. We deserve to have songs about women in relationships with women and men in relationships with men. My goal is that no other queer kid has to feel like there is no one that sings the style of music like them. That they know that there are a lot of artists out there that are fighting for airplay, that sing of queer love and queer joy. That every queer country music fan can experience seeing their favorite queer country artist live for the first time. That they can feel that joy, and be in a room with others feeling the same way. I truly believe that giving country music loving queer kids like me representation can save lives, I know that it saved mine. Seeing Lily Rose succeed as an openly lesbian artist, getting to meet and talk to her on several occasions, and having her music where she sings of being in relationships with women has given me the confidence to make this move to a big city and dive into this industry. Seeing TJ Osborne from the band Brothers Osborne continue to be successful, win awards, have number one songs, and sell out large venues has shown me that there is space for queer artists in this industry and that we, the queer fans, will not be silenced and that we exist, though many would like you to think we don't. With my degree I will claw a space for queer artists in this industry, and give them the space to be found by queer fans. I hope to one day have my own record label where I will sign queer artists and give them what they need to succeed in this industry. I hope to use my degree to help queer people know that they are no alone, and that there are many just like them
      Elijah's Helping Hand Scholarship Award
      Growing up queer in a small town is about as easy as it sounds; it's not. I dealt with intense self loathing and a deep people pleasing complex. I had to be the best at everything I did so I could make up for the fact that I was queer. I had to do everything I could to make people look past the fact that I was a girl who liked girls, and instead notice that I had excellent grades, that I volunteered at church, that my room was perfectly clean, I was always on time, and I was kind. In my middle school head, if I did all of these things, I would be the exception. Yeah, maybe they wouldn't vote for my rights, but I could still be friends with their child and we could still go to church together. Unfortunately, or fortunately, however you want to look at it, that's not how the world works. If someone is homophobic, there is no grade high enough and no extracurricular you can do that will change their mind about you. Not to mention, you don't want to be their exception. You do not want the support of someone who will not vote for your rights and only likes you because of what you can do for them. After a while I realized this. You cannot make everyone happy, especially if you're queer in a small town. I realized that nothing I could do would make them love me. But because of this, I found my people. I found the other queer kids just like me in small towns just like mine that had felt the same way I did. I realized, that I had my own community, and I didn't need my towns love. I started going to more queer focused events and seeking out queer concerts, such as seeing Lily Rose eight times in the last two years. Getting to see an out lesbian preform songs about dating women in a crowd of other queer people was so special, and some of the only times I have felt truly safe and at peace. With my degree in music business at Belmont University I hope to help push queer country artists so that other queer people can experience seeing artists just like them preform, in a crowd of people feeling the exact same way. Someday, my goal is to have my own record label with all queer artists, and to help give them a space in the country music world.
      Eras Tour Farewell Fan Scholarship
      For as long as I can remember, I have loved Taylor Swift. I was four months old when Debut came out, and my mom was immediately a fan, instantly putting me around her music. I remember listening to "Mean" in my grandpas rusty beat up truck at the age of four. The windows were down, blowing my long curly hair around and we were both screaming the words. In elementary school, during the hot Michigan summer days, my cousin and I would dance around our living room to "Shake It Off" and "Love Story". During lockdown I had just started high school remotely. I was alone for 12 hours a day while my parents worked. I was sad and lonely, then swooped in folklore and evermore. Those two albums will forever hold a special place in my heart because of the great joy and comfort they brought me in the most unsettling times. Then came the start of the rerecording's. I got to hear all of the songs I grew up on, the ones I treasured so deeply, all over again. It was magical and so so special. When midnights was announced, I finally had swiftie friends. People who loved Taylor and grew up with her just like I did. We made a cake and drove to get the album from target together. It felt like the world was coming together. The next month, the eras tour was announced. I had never seen Taylor before, and I had been saving every dollar I made so I could buy a ticket when she announced a tour. We survived the great war and got tickets; I was finally going to see Taylor Swift after 16 years of being a fan. The show was truly worth all $580 I spent on my ticket and the most magical moment of my life. I will treasure those memories until the day I die. Throughout the eras tour I got dumped, cheated on, diagnosed with a chronic illness, and lost three close family members. But, because of those things, I healed. I became a stronger better version of myself. Throughout it all, I had the grainy livestreams I would watch every night in my bed. I got to see my social media friends I met through Taylor get to go to shows and get to experience what I did. I got to relive the concert, the songs, and the memories at every stop of the tour. To think that when this tour started I was a junior in high school in my small midwestern town, and when it ends I will be ending my first semester of college in Nashville is truly awestriking. This tour has been with me through the highest highs this year and the lowest lows. It had helped me heal from grief and heartbreak, and will always hold a special place in my heart.
      Frank and Patty Skerl Educational Scholarship for the Physically Disabled
      In early 2023 I got diagnosed with Hypermobile Elhers Danlos Syndrome. This condition can be really debilitating, and has greatly affected my day to day experience. I do not look physically disabled, which can make people question whether I am being dramatic, attention seeking, or if I am even sick at all. Since being diagnosed, I have started noticing just how ablest this world is. I attended a concert this summer where I was having a bad pain day. I decided I would use the ramp to get to my seat, as opposed to the stairs, where I would cause myself further pain. When I arrived at the ramp, it was bared off. You had to find a security guard to use the ramp if you wanted access. Why couldn't they just leave the ramp open for anyone to use? It makes no sense. Early this fall I agreed to go to a haunted house with my friend. When we got there, there was no mention of the amount of stairs inside the haunted house, so I had no idea I would have to climb 3 flights of stairs after already walking an hour in the haunted house. My friend hadn't thought to call ahead to ask, and I assumed they would have an option for disabled people, or at least mention it before you entered and had no other way of getting out. These are just two examples of society simply not thinking of us before designing something, or making it so an easier option is harder to access. While technically there was a ramp at the venue, you had to ask someone for access. While I could have asked if there were stairs, they could just have a sign posted informing you. Through these experiences and many others, I have begun trying to think of other peoples capabilities before asking them to do something. Before suggesting a restaurant, I will see if there is close parking, or if we will have to walk a ways when I ask my friend who can't walk far to dinner. If I ask my grandma to an event, I check to see if there are benches for her to rest on. With my degree in Music Business, I can eventually choose to focus on Live Event Management, where I can make concerts (one of my favorite things) more accessible to disabled people, so they don't have to lose something they may already enjoy, or give them the opportunity to discover something they may end up loving.
      Hopke Foundation Scholarship
      For as long as I can remember I have loved country music. I went to my first concert at the age of two somewhere in Michigan. Since then, I have gone to concerts at county fairs, tiny stages in Grand Rapids, huge festivals in corn fields, and many more in between all over the country. While I have always had this love and drive for music, I unfortunately have no musical talent. However, I have been lucky enough to meet people on the business side of the music industry, and I have fallen completely in love with it. Through all of these shows, I have only seen three openly queer country artists through all the concerts I have attended. I aspire to make it so other queer country fans never have to experience this, and can know what it feels to see an artist singing songs they relate to. I will never forget seeing Lily Rose, an open lesbian artist, sing country songs to a full room of people who bought a ticket to see her. Screaming her songs with a bunch of other queer people who I know felt the same way was such a healing experience. I have gone on to see her eight times, and it truly never gets old I want the next generation of queer kids who also grew up on country music to have more than these three artists to look up to, listen to, love, and support. I want to make their music and concerts more wide spread and accessible so they can experience sooner than I did. My dream is to someday have my own record label in Nashville with only LGBTQIA+, disabled, BIPOC, and female artists. This will be a long way down the road, and I will have to fight hard to get there, but I believe that I can do it, and that the LGBTQIA+ community deserves this representation. With the help of this scholarship I will help pay for my college tuition at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee where I plan to major in music business. I will fight for queer artists, and other queer people to hold space in the country music industry. I will work to make minority artists in the country music industry a common thing, so other queer country kids from small farming towns in Michigan have artists to listen to that sing about their experiences.
      LGBTQ+ Wellness in Action Scholarship
      I grew up in a small midwestern town where everyone is cisgendered, straight, white and christian. Enter me, a queer, disabled, woman. As you can imagine this caused me to struggle with both my physical and mental health. I have to drive an hour round trip for 3 doctors appointments a week, and have had to set aside my mental health because we simply didn't have money for the copays on my doctors appointments, my medication, and treatments and for therapy to help deal with my religious trauma and and anxiety. Within the span of two years I was diagnosed with a chronic illness, anxiety, and I came out as apart of the LGBTQIA+ community. I was constantly being told to "suck it up" because my anxiety was the least of the worlds problems. I was looked down upon because I couldn't play sports and had to say no to things because of my physical limitations. Suddenly, I had gone from the sweet church girl who did well in school and never said no to volunteering at town events, to the queer disabled girl who stood up for herself from everyones nightmare's. Though still, deep inside I desperately wanted to go back to the original version of me everyone loved, but I had no choice in the matter. I had an uncurbable chronic illness, and I was a queer person. I despised the fact that to no fault of my own I could not live up to the standard of which the world had set for me. I fell behind in school because I was constantly at an appointment, so I had no academic validation to lean back on, I had to work through the self hatred and internalized homophobia engrained in me, and outwardly I had to sustain the fact that I was sane and not the monster small towns paint queer people to be. Dealing with a chronic illness, keeping my physical health above water (which is really all I can hope for with my illness) is key to keeping my mental wellbeing healthy. I have been able to do this with love from my family, a really good therapist (that we managed to afford for seven months), and my best friend. I must keep my anxiety low to avoid having a pain flare and I must not have a pain flare so I can keep my mental health well. In my opinion, mental health and physical health are extremely intertwined, but in my case it is even more so. I hope that throughout my college career, starting next year I can maintain this balance even though it will be different from anything I have experienced before.
      @ESPdaniella Disabled Degree Scholarship
      In the music industry, there is not a space for disabled artists or people. I could not think of an artist with a physical disability if I tried. With my major in Music Business at Belmont University I hope to one day have my very own Record Label with LGBTQIA+, disabled, BIPOC, and female artists that would otherwise not have a space in the industry, or have anyone fighting for them. As a queer, female, and chronically ill person who loves concerts and music, this is something I believe I can accomplish that will truly change the music industry for the better, and give fans artists they can relate to.
      Elevate Mental Health Awareness Scholarship
      When I was diagnosed with anxiety at 15, I was completely and utterly confused. What do you mean not everyone is always worried about everything at all times? That the simple task of running into the grocery store by yourself doesn't cause your heart to race and your palms to sweat? That the first thought in your head isn't the absolute worst case scenario? That the idea of public speaking doesn't make everyone violently ill? I remember thinking, "You mean to tell me that my entire life, I haven't been meant to feel this way? That all my classmates weren't having these thoughts race through their heads at all times?". It suddenly felt like some crude joke had been made at my expense in front of everyone I knew, and no one had told me. I was overwhelmed at the mere idea that I had been struggling like this for so long, with no idea that it wasn't normal. At first, it felt like I was the only one that had felt these things. When I would get comfortable enough with someone to start talking about my mental health, normally after they brought up anxiety before, I would get blank, wide eyed stares. Gasps or "I'm so sorry's". These people had some warped cutesy version of anxiety in their head, something I had no experience with. So I simply stopped bringing it up, unless it was to make a joke at my own expense about my mental health, because my anxiety had never been cute. It had always been debilitating and overwhelming. The darkest part of me, the thing I hid, albeit unintentionally at first. So, I started therapy. Therapy was truly one of the greatest things to happen to me, and I can say that I would not be here without it. I know that therapy has been extremely harmful for others, due to bad therapists or other situations, but I am so grateful to not have experienced those things. I have, however, been greatly harmed by the world, and specifically this country's access to mental health resources. I was able to be in therapy for around 7 months before I had to quit due to my physical health declining. My therapist, and the only one I trusted in my area, was not covered by my insurance and we couldn't afford the copays for my doctors appointments and medical procedures and the money for my therapy bills. I, thankfully, have made it without therapy and am winning my battle against anxiety, though I still deal with its negative thoughts and urges every day. The coping mechanisms I soaked up in therapy have been my armor and my weapons. I have done things I never would have thought myself capable of 2 years ago. I am facing my fears and moving eight hours away to go to my dream college in the fall of 2024. While I truly would not wish anxiety or any other mental health struggles on anyone, I hope that because I was able to fight through my own struggles and make it to the other side, that I will be able to inspire others to do the same.
      Chronic Boss Scholarship
      Sometimes I think back to the girl I was sitting in that doctors office for the first time, ready to fight for my health instead of "just dealing with it" like I always had before. I was freshly 16 dealing with debilitating pain and a long list of other symptoms I had no idea weren't normal. I was ready to see if maybe, being in excruciating pain for no obvious reason at all times, was, in fact, out of the ordinary. My dear mother and I proceeded to go to a long list of doctors appointments that would leave us with just enough hope to keep fighting, while also leaving us crying in the car because I was yet again labeled a "whiny teenage girl" or told that I was "just drug seeking" or that I would never be able to do any of the things I had always dreamed of doing, because, while they had no idea what could possibly be wrong, I had no chance of ever living life as a normal teenager again. That was until I finally got a diagnosis. I finally had a name for what had been plaguing my life for years; tearing it apart with each plan canceled for pain, each appointment I just couldn't miss, and each friend who got tired of getting turned down for a heating pad, a bottle of pain meds, and a never ending list of school work to accomplish. I thought that this would be where everything changed. I would get my friends back, I would cut back on appointments, and I would finally just get to be a teenage girl again. Turns out, that's not how it works. Instead of seeking answers, I was receiving treatment, which turns out to take up much more time. While I had a name for my illness, no one in my life knew what it was or understood how it affected me. I still had to cancel plans because of pain, and I would still much rather stay home and try to catch up on the never ending list of assignments I was falling behind on in school, because I was missing so much class for appointments. Anytime I did go out, my body would punish me, making me bed ridden for days, because heaven forbid I walk around the mall. While this new chronically ill version of me surfaced, I was still the girl from the doctors office with dreams and goals. I still wanted to move hours away to college, to climb the steep mountain that is the music industry. Now, I just had to fight harder than everyone else to achieve this. While some may say my health gives me a disadvantage, I would have to disagree. Through this journey, I learned to fight for myself. I had to believe in myself and my ability to get answers. I jumped through hoops most others don't have to, and I still came out on the other side strong and ready to take on anything thrown at me. I got into my dream school where I will continue to fight for not only my health, but for my career. I plan to major in Music Business at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee in the fall of 2024.