Last month, my niece, Stephanie Ogino representing her father’s insurance agency (thank you Paul!!) stood on stage with me to award a scholarship to a graduating senior from Yucca Valley High School. Krista and her girlfriend, Hailey drove two hours to accept this scholarship at the Los Angeles LGBTA Scholarship Awards . As much as I was impressed by this inspiring young leader from her scholarship application, I was even more struck by this sweet young student with fiery red hair that matched the passion and boldness of her spirit.
In a conservative small town in California, this young lady has changed the hearts and minds of her community. She started the first Gay Straight Alliance at her high school after she was told year after year that she could not do so. Can you imagine the courage that this took? She told me with a twinkle in her eye, she was finally successful after she brought in a little help . . . . legal help. Krista also shared that their first GSA meetings were attended by only students who identified as straight allies. And with modest pride, she shared that many of these same allies later found the courage, to announce their true selves. Her courage brought out the courage in them.
I recently bought a plaque that I believe will define who I will be the next few years. It says, “Once you choose HOPE, anything is possible.” I want to do work that allows LGBT youth to choose hope. Thank you Krista for the hope you have given those in your community and the hope you have strengthened in this mother’s heart. You are my inspiration . . . .