The fight for LGBTQ+ rights in Indiana is one of Kyle Casteel’s passions. The O’Neill Policy Studies major has worked in political activism for nearly five years, contributing to efforts that seek more civil rights protections for the LGBTQ+ community.
The push is personal for Casteel because it’s his community. Thanks to his courses in O’Neill and a scholarship from the Point Foundation, he is preparing to be better equipped to lead the fight in the future.
The Point Foundation is a national organization that empowers promising lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer students to achieve their full academic and leadership potential. Every year, they offer dozens of scholarships to students across the nation.
The January 27 deadline for the 2020 Point Scholarship is rapidly approaching. If students make it through the initial round, they can expect several additional interviews before final selections in early to mid-summer.
For the 2019–2020 academic year, Point Foundation received 2,100 applications from students vying to become a Point Scholar. They selected just 16 of those 2,100 students for the honor. Casteel was one of them.
This was not his first connection to the Point Foundation. He had received a community college scholarship from Point that allowed him to transfer from Ivy Tech to IUPUI. After he transferred, he says he was in a better position to compete for the full scholarship.
“When I learned I had been selected as a Point Scholar, I immediately felt so seen and validated for my efforts,” Casteel says. “I was really at a point where I had achieved a lot professionally and wanted someone to say my academic pursuits have value. Winning meant my hard work was worthwhile and, because of it, I will finally be afforded the opportunity to focus on my studies.”
Like many students, Casteel faced an uphill battle when it came to balancing work and covering the cost of education. The scholarship amount varies based on a student’s need, but Casteel says his meant he would no longer have to choose between attending classes and working.
Point Scholars must meet certain academic requirements, check in regularly with their Point mentors, and design and execute a volunteer service project benefiting their local LGBTQ+ community.
In addition to the scholarship, Point also offers recipients a network of support and resources to guide them through their academic careers and beyond.
“With the support system that my mentor and the Point staff, my fellow scholars, and alumni represent, the Point Scholarship has made an absolutely seismic shift in how I am able to pursue my education,” he says.
As a future alum, Casteel says he looks forward to serving as a mentor for a future scholar and he hopes more Hoosier students will apply for the program.
“Point Foundation wants and needs more Point Scholars from places like Indiana,” he says. “I’m not the first, but there aren’t that many. I know from experience how important it is for LGBTQ+ people in our state, especially young people, to tell our stories and make people listen. Point will listen to you.”