Our Mission is Simple

Assist in the education of LGBTQ individuals who demonstrate
promise for becoming a positive role model for other LGBTQ people.

Overview Video

Announcement

2019-20 academic year Scholarships have been awarded.  The application cycle for 2020-21 Scholarships will open in January 2020.  Questions can be addressed to info@mlscholarships.org.

About the Scholarship

The Markowski-Leach Scholarship fund was established as a result of the vision of Tom Markowski and Jim Leach. Tom and Jim were a gay couple living in San Francisco. As the AIDS crisis spread in the early 1980s, they talked about what they would like their legacy to be. They “wanted to make a difference” and felt that, at that time, there was a dearth of positive role models for gays and lesbians. This became the defining theme of the scholarships: to assist in the education of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) people who would then have an impact on other LGBTQ people through their works.

The Scholarship fund was part of a bequest from the estate of Jim Leach, which reflected their mutual desire to provide financial assistance to LGBTQ people trying to further their education. Tom passed away 2 years before Jim. Both died as a result of HIV. According to the terms of the bequest, the Scholarship Committee is directed to evaluate applications seeking to identify LGBTQ individuals who are likely to:
“…make a substantial contribution to society, thereby enhancing society’s perception of gay and lesbian people as well as increasing the gay and lesbian community’s self-esteem…”

Selected candidates will demonstrate their dedication to excellence in their lives through service, education, or employment. Scholarship are awarded to applicants whose leadership potential is evident regardless of their chosen field of study or financial need.

scholarships
Awarded since 1991

363
dollars
awarded since 1991

$508,500

Award Criteria

2019 Scholarship Recipients

Ezekiel Adigun

School: University of California, San Francisco
Degree: Doctoral Candidate
Major/Concentration: Medicine

My name is Ezekiel Adigun, and I am currently in my final year of medical school at the University of California, San Francisco. I’m incredibly excited to receive this award because it supports students working to give back to the LGBTQ community in a visible and unapologetic way. I’m originally from Washington, DC but moved to the Bay Area in 2016 after attending college at Harvard and a far too brief two years living in Brazil working in education and health tech. I first started working with LGBTQ folks back in 2005 when I volunteered with an organization called Food & Friends that continues to provide meals and build community for people living with HIV in the DC metro area. This was back before I had really accepted that I was gay, but it was such a powerful experience that it stuck with me and motivated me to continue the work. Since then I’ve interned at Fenway Health, worked in men’s health at the Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers, and served as an advocacy team member for ImpulseSF. When I’m not hitting the books, I enjoy taking hip-hop dance classes with Groove Against the Machine in Oakland and playing kickball with Varsity Gay League. After finishing my medical training, I hope to work in a federally qualified health center providing full-spectrum primary care with a special focus on preventative health care for LGBTQ folks.

My name is Ezekiel Adigun, and I am currently in my final year of medical school at the University of California, San Francisco. I’m incredibly excited to receive this award because it supports students working to give back to the LGBTQ community in a visible and unapologetic way. I’m originally… read more

Ezekiel Gorrocino

School: University of California, Hastings College of Law
Degree: Doctoral Candidate
Major/Concentration: Juris Doctor

My name is Ezekiel Gorrocino and I am honored to receive the Markowski-Leach Scholarship as I begin my studies at UC Hastings. Originally from a small, rural town in Mexico, I migrated to the U.S. at the age of 16. Formerly undocumented, political asylum gave me the freedom to live openly as a gay man and to pursue my education. I attended San Francisco City College and later transferred to UC Berkeley where I obtained my Bachelor’s in Political Economy and a minor in Public Policy. Until recently I was a Policy Associate at the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL), a nonprofit working to protect family wealth by fighting predatory lending practices. Before CRL I was a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs with Coro of Northern California, where I gained experience in politics, government, business and nonprofit sectors. Prior to Coro I worked in an immigration law office handling asylum, citizenship, and DACA applications. More recently, I was the Chair of the Peace and Justice Commission in Berkeley, making recommendations to the city on homelessness, immigration, and LGBT issues. In 2016 I was selected as a New Leaders Council Fellow, and in 2018 as a NALCAB Colegio Fellow. Receiving this scholarship empowers me to continue pursuing my goal of advocating for, and working with, the low-income community in the policy and legislative arena. On my free time I enjoy browsing bookstores, reading in coffee shops, trying new restaurants in the Bay Area, and volunteering with my community.

My name is Ezekiel Gorrocino and I am honored to receive the Markowski-Leach Scholarship as I begin my studies at UC Hastings. Originally from a small, rural town in Mexico, I migrated to the U.S. at the age of 16. Formerly undocumented, political asylum gave me the freedom to live… read more

Cai Guo

School: Stanford University
Degree: Doctoral Candidate
Major/Concentration: Psychology

I am incredibly grateful to be awarded a Markowski-Leach scholarship. I am currently a PhD student studying cognitive science at Stanford in the Department of Psychology. Broadly, I am interested in how we understand abstract concepts such as aesthetics, gender, and personal identity. My research uses both behavioral and computational methods to examine the structures of our conceptual repertoire. One of the most important goals of my academic pursuits is to apply research in cognitive science to helping the LGBTQ+ community. Specifically, I hope to create systematic mapping of folk conceptual representations of gender and sexuality and explore the possibility of instilling more flexible thinking about gender and sexuality through theory-based conceptual interventions. I am also an active advocate for LGBTQ+ representation in STEM fields – I am involved in the 500 Queer Scientists program, hoping to contribute to the representation of queer people of color in science. I have also served in multiple student and non-profit organizations for LGBTQ+ well-being and sexual health since high school. With the support of the Markowski-Leach scholarship, I hope to further my visibility as an out queer scientist and broaden the impact of my academic research on the conceptualizations of gender and sexuality to help make the world a better place for the LGBTQ+ community.

I am incredibly grateful to be awarded a Markowski-Leach scholarship. I am currently a PhD student studying cognitive science at Stanford in the Department of Psychology. Broadly, I am interested in how we understand abstract concepts such as aesthetics, gender, and personal identity. My research uses both behavioral and computational… read more

G. Allen Ratliff

School: University of California, Berkeley
Degree: Doctoral Candidate
Major/Concentration: Social Work/Social Welfare

I am a doctoral candidate in the School of Social Welfare at the University of California, Berkeley. Originally from Omaha, Nebraska, I worked as a clinical social worker in Chicago before starting his doctoral program. As a social worker I served young people affected by structural marginalization, including homeless youth, queer and trans youth, and violence-involved youth. In my doctoral program, I have translated my practice experience to research, studying violence against marginalized youth. I serve as the project director for the SF YEAH study on violence against youth experiencing homelessness in San Francisco, a joint collaboration with UC Berkeley, UCSF, and Larkin Street Youth Services. For my dissertation, I am conducting qualitative interviews with transgender young adults on their childhood and adolescent experiences of violence and health. In addition to violence, gender, and sexuality, I write and teach about power, the social environment, social work ethics, and social welfare policy. After finishing my Ph.D., I plan to continue research and writing in academia.

I am a doctoral candidate in the School of Social Welfare at the University of California, Berkeley. Originally from Omaha, Nebraska, I worked as a clinical social worker in Chicago before starting his doctoral program. As a social worker I served young people affected by structural marginalization, including homeless youth,… read more

Bright Zhou

School: Stanford University
Degree: Doctoral Candidate
Major/Concentration: Medicine
Bright competed for, and was awarded, a second two-year scholarship for continued study

I am proud to be a recipient of the Markowski-Leach Scholarship. I graduated from Stanford University in 2016 with a BAH in Archaeology and an MS in Biology, where I analyzed the nutritional and skeletal health of a Neolithic community in Turkey for my thesis. In my free time, I was also involved with the Cardinal Free Clinics and Symphony Orchestra. As an undergraduate and now as a medical student at Stanford Medical School, I’ve been lucky to find homes in many communities and am grateful to have had so many visible and fantastic mentors, whose experiences have empowered me to share my own. In particular, I’ve relied on archaeology – a discipline created to shed light on untold stories from the past –  to help me and those around me to understand my own dynamic history and future as a queer, Asian-American. With the support of the Markowski-Leach Scholarship, I hope to continue my interests in archaeology and anthropology in medical school by studying evolving global and population health disparities. As a physician, I will strive to share my power as a specialist and to build communities for marginalized voices. Thank you once again to the committee and to my mentors for their support.

I am proud to be a recipient of the Markowski-Leach Scholarship. I graduated from Stanford University in 2016 with a BAH in Archaeology and an MS in Biology, where I analyzed the nutritional and skeletal health of a Neolithic community in Turkey for my thesis. In my free time, I… read more

Sean Rosas

School: San Francisco State University
Degree: Masters Candidate
Major/Concentration: Social Work

This scholarship validates and supports my lifelong work within the LGBT community and commitment to service to others. My public service started in the U.S. Army, in 1995, where I proudly served as an intelligence analyst but was relieved of duty under the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Policy in order to maintain custody of my son. In 1999, I transitioned my focus to working in the nonprofit community on substance abuse, and then to feeding those who were living with HIV/AIDS and other critical illnesses at Project Open Hand. Gradually, I moved into community building where I worked to connect nonprofits and their mission to technology and volunteerism at Salesforce. This dedication to community is even reflected in my personal life—I am happily married to an environmental advocate and my son is now serving in the U.S. Navy. My current educational goal is to finish my Masters in Social Work, which is focused on expanding the mental health field to include nature, especially Forest Therapy, into the therapeutic process. This area of study provides me the opportunity to bring a more holistic, cross-cultural lens to the field of mental health, while at the time underscoring the deep connection between human wellbeing and environmental sustainability.

This scholarship validates and supports my lifelong work within the LGBT community and commitment to service to others. My public service started in the U.S. Army, in 1995, where I proudly served as an intelligence analyst but was relieved of duty under the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Policy in… read more

Mia Villasenor

School: University of California, Berkeley
Degree: Bachelor’s Degree (Senior Year)
Major/Concentration: Legal Studies

As a young lesbian in middle school, I felt isolated from my peers and my family and constantly bombarded by statistics of LGBTQ youth suicide or advertisements warning about the dangers of same-sex marriage. My love for the the LGBTQ community arose from my difficult middle school experience, and has informed my leadership experiences here at UC Berkeley. I helped organize the 2018 Queer Trans People of Color Conference; I served as Legislative Director for the Office of ASUC Senator Teddy Lake, the queer/trans community’s endorsed student representative, where I wrote bills in support of trans and non-binary students; I served as president of Queer Student Union; I interned for Planned Parenthood’s Government Relations team over the summer of 2019; and I currently serve as Board Director of the Queer Alliance Resource Center (QARC), the oldest LGBTQ student organization at Cal providing resources, advocacy, and community to queer/trans students. The Markowski-Leach Scholarship will support me financially as I strive towards becoming the first in my family to go to law school, where I intend to merge my commitment to LGBTQ rights to issues of employment, healthcare, immigration, and family law. Even more importantly, the Markowski-Leach Scholarship will allow me to further support the LGBTQ community at UC Berkeley. I will be able to dedicate more of my time to leading QARC as the organization fights for greater sexual and mental health, educational, political, and community resources for queer/trans students and educating future leaders of the LGBTQ community on campus.

As a young lesbian in middle school, I felt isolated from my peers and my family and constantly bombarded by statistics of LGBTQ youth suicide or advertisements warning about the dangers of same-sex marriage. My love for the the LGBTQ community arose from my difficult middle school experience, and has… read more

Cedar Casper

School: University of California, Berkeley
Degree: Bachelor’s Degree (Junior Year)
Major/Concentration: Gender and Sexuality

Hey! I am so grateful to have received this scholarship to attend UC Berkeley in the fall—my dream since I was 8 years old so receiving this scholarship has been such a blessing. As a Gender & Sexuality major, I am incredibly passionate about the LGBT community serving as a leader in several mainstream organizations, such as Rotary Club and 4H where I act as a bridge to educate others about LGBT issues and support individuals by providing a safe outlet for them to express their feelings. Once I get my degree, I hope to go onto law school so I can become a discrimination lawyer and serve LGBT people.

Hey! I am so grateful to have received this scholarship to attend UC Berkeley in the fall—my dream since I was 8 years old so receiving this scholarship has been such a blessing. As a Gender & Sexuality major, I am incredibly passionate about the LGBT community serving as a… read more

Jenna Ruzekowicz

School: Stanford University
Degree: Bachelor’s Degree (Freshman Year)
Major/Concentration: Environmental Science and Policy

My name is Jenna Ruzekowicz, a student from Central New York who will be attending Stanford University next fall to study either Environmental or Political Science, with prospective minors in Creative Writing and/or Public Policy. Receiving the Markowski-Leach scholarship means so very much to me. By helping to financially aid my education, an endless amount of doors are being opened into my future. Because of this scholarship, I hope to be able to afford studying abroad, as well as in Washington, where I can make my mark in the political world, advocating for the environment and my personal community. In the future, I hope for my studies to lead me into a field where I can uphold the liberties and rights of all people. I am undecided what I will do after my Bachelor’s, but am currently considering paths in economics, and law. Receiving this scholarship has helped me gain a jumpstart on my future, and will ultimately limit the financial burden on myself and family. In life all I hope to do is create the largest positive impact that I can. No matter where this impact takes place, I will always be thankful for this amazing honor, and use it to further my impact in the LGBT+ community.

My name is Jenna Ruzekowicz, a student from Central New York who will be attending Stanford University next fall to study either Environmental or Political Science, with prospective minors in Creative Writing and/or Public Policy. Receiving the Markowski-Leach scholarship means so very much to me. By helping to financially aid… read more

Lee Lemus Hufstedler

School: University of California, Berkeley
Degree: Concurrent Masters and Doctoral Candidate
Major/Concentration: Health and Medical Sciences and Medicine

Lee Lemus Hufstedler is a medical student in the UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program, health disparities researcher, and trainer on transgender-affirming healthcare. After completing a bachelor’s degree in Biochemical Studies at Harvard College, Lee worked for a decade as a community organizer, serving as founding director of Erósfera, Center for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in Puebla, Mexico, and co-director of Bluestockings Activist Center in NYC. Lee also coordinated research with UCSF’s Food Insecurity and Health Group, exploring food security and health for people living with HIV. Lee now researches the health and healthcare needs of homeless transgender youth in the San Francisco Bay Area, and helps healthcare organizations better understand how to serve marginalized transgender populations. Lee is trans, proudly Chicano, a parent to a senior miniature poodle, and loves living in Oakland. Visit leelemus.com for more information.

Lee Lemus Hufstedler is a medical student in the UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program, health disparities researcher, and trainer on transgender-affirming healthcare. After completing a bachelor’s degree in Biochemical Studies at Harvard College, Lee worked for a decade as a community organizer, serving as founding director of Erósfera, Center for Sexual… read more

Past Recipients

John Earl Dio

UC Berkeley / Legal Studies

Hello! My name is John Earl Dio, and I am a third-year undergraduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, majoring in Legal Studies, and minoring in Human Rights. I am originally from Manila, Philippines, but moved to the United States back in 2001 and have continued to reside in San Fernando Valley, California since. As someone who was formerly undocumented, grew up socioeconomically disadvantaged, and also identified as gay, this scholarship means that I can dedicate more hours to my studies instead of working more part-time. Moreover, this award will also support me as I continue establishing, OUTLAW at Berkeley, which is Berkeley’s first queer, LGBTQ, and ally-in-solidarity undergraduate pre-law organization that launched this past 2013-2014 academic year. More importantly, this award will help contribute to my future goal of becoming a lawyer. Our community is still by far one of the most “legally” discriminated groups in the United States. Whether it is the lack of trans healthcare coverage, or discriminatory labor statutes, our community still has far to overcome in the coming years. Therefore, after finishing my undergraduate degree, I plan on going to law school, where I will specialize in labor rights, and immigration.

Hello! My name is John Earl Dio, and I am a third-year undergraduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, majoring in Legal Studies, and minoring in Human Rights. I am originally from Manila, Philippines, but moved to the United States back in 2001 and have continued to reside in… read more

Laila Al-Shamma

Stanford University

In the fall of 2014 I’ll be attending Stanford University. I’m very interested in studying various aspects of the humanities and the arts, including language, political science, and music. I’ve been a musician all of my life. In high school I played in the marching band and I’ve sung in a choir for eleven years. Additionally, I strongly identify as an LGBTQ activist and feminist. I’m very excited to study these subjects in college, and I know that my future lies in music, activism, and leadership. As a Markowski-Leach Scholar, I feel more secure in achieving these goals. Beyond monetary assistance, which has helped my family with much of the burden of my college tuition, Markowski-Leach has also given me hope and confidence. Receiving this award is an affirmative push in the right direction; it has validated my dreams and given me more confidence as a leader.

In the fall of 2014 I’ll be attending Stanford University. I’m very interested in studying various aspects of the humanities and the arts, including language, political science, and music. I’ve been a musician all of my life. In high school I played in the marching band and I’ve sung in… read more

Michael Liu

UCSF / Medical Student

I am incredibly honored to receive the Markowski-Leach Scholarship.  I grew up in Southern California, got my B.S. in Biology at Stanford, and am currently a third year medical student at UCSF.  Growing up in a small Asian conservative suburb has made me value and appreciate just how valuable positive role models are.  I know I would not have been able to be where I am today without the visibility of supportive mentors and the incredible atmosphere of diversity and acceptance that is the Bay Area.  Becoming involved in HIV/AIDS testing and counseling in college sparked my desire to continue being an advocate for sexual health and HIV/AIDS issues, and I want to make it a point to incorporate that in my future career as a physician in whatever way I can.  With the help of this scholarship, I hope to achieve my dreams of becoming a physician and hopefully become the type of mentor and role model that I have admired.

I am incredibly honored to receive the Markowski-Leach Scholarship.  I grew up in Southern California, got my B.S. in Biology at Stanford, and am currently a third year medical student at UCSF.  Growing up in a small Asian conservative suburb has made me value and appreciate just how valuable positive… read more

Lisa Levin

UC Berkeley / Comparative Literature

I am excited to have been selected as a recipient of the Markowski-Leach Scholarship. The award will support me as I continue to research and write about queer and trans issues. Often, I find myself disappointed by LGBT organizations that focus on all but the L, B, and T; my work focuses on giving a voice to those who tend to be excluded from the mainstream “gay rights” groups. These individuals should not only be included but become leaders in activist efforts.

In the upcoming academic year, I will complete my research project on the representation of queer, transgender, and gender non-conforming women in Japanese art and literature. After graduation, I intend to work as a writer and continue to study and teach about gender and sexuality issues.

I am excited to have been selected as a recipient of the Markowski-Leach Scholarship. The award will support me as I continue to research and write about queer and trans issues. Often, I find myself disappointed by LGBT organizations that focus on all but the L, B, and T; my… read more

Daniel Herrador

UC Berkeley & UCSF / Joint Medical Program

Hello! My name is Daniel Herrador, a current student in the Joint Medical Program and UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco. I am pursuing my Master’s in Health Science (MS) and Doctor of Medicine degree (MD). I am originally from Orange County, California but moved up to the San Francisco Bay Area to attend Stanford University for my bachelor’s degree in Biology. During college, I worked with openly gay San Francisco Supervisor Bevan Dufty to assist constituents in the Castro neighborhood with various issues, complaints, and concerns they had for their neighborhood and city.

I have also worked with TeachAIDS, an HIV/AIDS nonprofit to help redesign and repackage their educational materials to make them more electronically accessible in a variety of formats, all while keeping them free-of charge to access. I am also EMT trained, which combined with my public health experiences, put me on the track to preparing for medical school. After graduation and before going to medical and grad school, I worked with the San Francisco Department of Public Health to help implement electronic medical record software in the city clinics. In my free time, I enjoy playing softball with the San Francisco Gay Softball League, riding my motorcycle, spending time with my caring and loving partner, playing nerdy video games, and catching up with friends. My professional goals include working in a public clinic in the mission, focusing on serving the San Francisco Latin@ community.

Hello! My name is Daniel Herrador, a current student in the Joint Medical Program and UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco. I am pursuing my Master’s in Health Science (MS) and Doctor of Medicine degree (MD). I am originally from Orange County, California but moved up to the San Francisco… read more

Mary Susman

UC Berkeley / Sociology and Gender & Women’s Studies

Originally from Omaha, Nebraska, Mary Susman is a fourth year undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley, where she is double majoring in Sociology and Gender & Women’s Studies. Receiving a Markowski-Leach scholarship is empowering as it not only enables her—an out-of-state student from a working-poor family, who works multiple jobs to afford tuition on her own—to continue her studies at her dream school, but it also reaffirms her work within the queer community for collective liberation for all people.

While her LGBTQ activism began in middle school, her work has intensified over the years. During college, she served on the planning committee for a camp for LGBTQ youth, she interned at the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and she designed and facilitated an undergraduate course called “Collective Liberation” at UC Berkeley. As an openly queer person, she continues to challenge stereotypes while working to dismantle systems oppression that especially affect the most vulnerable among the LGBTQ community. The work she does is only possible because she lives authentically and out, and she is ever grateful for the support of the Markowski-Leach Scholarship Fund for helping her follow her passion and make the world more livable and equitable for all people, regardless of gender and sexual identity. Mary’s future goal is to pursue a joint Ph.D. program in Public Policy and Sociology. Her work will be on the intersection of gender and sexuality, critical race theory, poverty, and policy.

Originally from Omaha, Nebraska, Mary Susman is a fourth year undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley, where she is double majoring in Sociology and Gender & Women’s Studies. Receiving a Markowski-Leach scholarship is empowering as it not only enables her—an out-of-state student from a working-poor family, who works multiple… read more

Drew Sabelhaus

UC Berkeley / Mechanical Engineering

I’m Drew, a second-­‐year mechanical engineering graduate student at UC Berkeley, researching robotics and controls. I received my B.S. in mechanical engineering, with a minor in computer science, from the University of Maryland, College Park, where I led my local chapter of Out in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (oSTEM.) Since graduating in 2012 and coming to Berkeley for my Ph.D., I’ve served in the national organization of oSTEM Incorporated, working on our chapter handbook and some chapter programs to help current student leaders.

My current research is in the design and control of tensegrity (tensile-­‐integrity) structures for dynamic locomotion, in combination with NASA Ames Research Center, where these structures may be used for future planetary lander missions. Receiving the Markowski-­‐Leach Scholarship is an honor, one that will continue to motivate my dual goals of engineering innovation and queer outreach. Honors such as this give me motivation to resist those in my field who compel me to focus solely on research. Though I’m convinced that my outreach work is immensely important, sometimes professors don’t see it the same way – this award is a vindication of my efforts! Thanks again to the committee and all involved, I truly appreciate this honor.

I’m Drew, a second-­‐year mechanical engineering graduate student at UC Berkeley, researching robotics and controls. I received my B.S. in mechanical engineering, with a minor in computer science, from the University of Maryland, College Park, where I led my local chapter of Out in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (oSTEM.)… read more

Erik Eckert

UC Berkeley / Gender Studies, MD

Hours after DOMA was repealed and Prop8 was dismissed for lack of standing, I reflect on this scholarship and what it means to be here and now. I’m proud to be queer, and today I am happy to be an American. But I’m also aware that the future of our community does not end with the (continuing) struggle for marriage equality. We have to keep working to make publicly visible the extent of the legal, institutional, social, and medical inequalities faced by our community members so that they may be challenged. I want to be a part of that struggle. This scholarship will be used to offset the intimidating costs of my medical education and my masters thesis, which examines how heterosexism seeps into basic science research. With these dual degrees, I hope to close disparity gaps in healthcare for all people and to refuse and confuse the the framing of heterosexuality and the male/female binary as the pinacles of ecological and ethological fitness. Our identities are biologically and socially rooted and we are continuing to ask “to what?” But I for one hope to live in a future in which biology is not used as the moral foundation for the justification of a way of life. I’m here and now- that should be enough.

Hours after DOMA was repealed and Prop8 was dismissed for lack of standing, I reflect on this scholarship and what it means to be here and now. I’m proud to be queer, and today I am happy to be an American. But I’m also aware that the future of our… read more