Pride Scholarship awarded to Peebles, Zaidan

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Two students had plenty to be proud of during Nashville’s recent Pride Festival when they each were awarded the Pride Scholarship from Nashville Pride, Inc.

Klint Peebles and Robert Zaidan each received a $500 scholarship from the Nashville Pride Board during festivities on Sunday, June 1. The money will go toward each student’s tuition.

For Peebles, a senior at Vanderbilt University majoring in neuroscience and Chinese language and culture, receiving the scholarship was more than an honor.

“A scholarship such as this one has no counterpart in my home state of Mississippi,” Peebles said.  “It was very uplifting even to have the opportunity to apply for it.”

Brad Bennett, former president of Nashville Pride, Inc., said the scholarship is awarded to students who excel in academics and community involvement. It serves to help the winners become strong in their chosen field so they may one day lead the GLBT community, he said.

“Part of our mission is to strengthen our GLBT community by helping to unify the GLBT community with the greater Nashville community,” Bennett said. “The scholarship helps to ensure that we as a GLBT community have those strong leaders within the greater Nashville community.”

Since 2005, the board has allotted a portion of its budget to award the two scholarships. Applicants must identify as GLBT and complete an application including transcripts, an essay and letters of reference to be considered for the scholarship. Winners are chosen by a small group of community and business leaders from the GLBT community and the greater Nashville area population, Bennett said.

Peebles is the president of Vanderbilt’s Lambda Association and said he works toward creating a more cohesive, vocal GLBT community on Vanderbilt’s campus by helping strengthen the undergraduate gay-straight alliance.

Peebles recently served on the search committee for Vanderbilt’s new GLBT director and plans to have an integral student role in the new office. He hopes to one day exact social change in the healthcare industry, as well.

“The GLBT community suffers from prejudice on a multitude of levels, and the area of healthcare is certainly one of them,” Peebles said. “No form of prejudice belongs in the healthcare industry, and my work as a practicing physician will focus on the well-being and support of the patient.”

Peebles said he plans to work toward ensuring that the rights of the GLBT community are preserved beyond the examination room and into healthcare policy and insurance, as well.

 Zaidan, a freshman at O’More College of Design, in Franklin, majoring in Visual Communication, said he applied for the scholarship because he was proud of the volunteer work he has done in the GLBT community.

“I wanted to be a part of the GLBT community as much as possible,” Zaidan said. “So I have tried to volunteer in everything I could.”

He said he has volunteered in the past with events including the Unpredictable Fashion Show and the Nashville Pride Festival. He is also a member of the Nashville Grizzlies rugby team and has helped with fundraising events, he said.

Zaidan said he plans to use his degree to create advertising projects for equal rights groups and has considered utilizing broadcast design in the future to create commercials for Nashville Pride, the Human Rights Campaign, the GLBT Chamber of Commerce and the Tennessee Equality Project. He plans also to become an active member in each group.

“I am thankful to everyone who believes in me enough to deem me a scholarship recipient,” Zaidan said. “It has helped out tremendously… And it has also made me feel like my hard work has really paid off. ”