Student earns prestigious LGBTQIA+ scholarship
After being turned down for the Point Foundation’s Flagship Scholarship last year, Andreas Copes redoubled his efforts to prove his leadership skills and was granted the scholarship this year.
What began as a Temple TV show about queer people, for queer people, became a movement under the care of Point Foundation Fellowship Scholar Andreas Copes, Class of 2022. Queer Temple (QT) recently tackled the topic of identity, which included an interview with a student whose “dead name” had been mistakenly presented on the screen at graduation. A dead name is a former name, usually a legal name, that an individual no longer associates themselves with.
“This program created a call for us to change the policy about reading names at graduation, which was a breakthrough for helping to raise awareness about this issue,” said Scott Gratson, director and professor of communication studies and undergraduate studies at the Klein College of Media and Communication, and Copes’ teacher as well as Point Foundation mentor.
As a result of the culture shift, Temple recently designed and released a system by which students could change their own pronouns and names to avoid being misgendered or having their dead names used.
QT is just one of many projects Copes has spearheaded in his pursuit of equality and intersectional feminism—the way women’s identities, such as race, class, ethnicity and religion, overlap to impact the way they experience oppression and discrimination. His efforts at creating change caught the eye of Point Foundation. Gratson has been mentoring students for Point Foundation since 2009 and describes the organization as “a celebration of LGBTQ+ scholarship, activism, academic leadership and a career trajectory for scholars from across the U.S.”
Founded in 2001, Point Foundation is a nonprofit organization that awards three kinds of scholarships coupled with mentoring, training and more for LGBTQIA+ student leaders. Jonathan Rosales, the program director of Point Foundation, said that the Flagship Scholarship seeks students who have made enormous impacts in leadership, engagement and facilitating change within the LGBTQIA+ community, and the program has a less than one percent acceptance rate.
Copes was first chosen for Point Foundation’s Community College Scholarship back in 2019, when he was a student at the Community College of Philadelphia.
Though it is not uncommon for Community College Scholars to go on to win the Flagship Scholarship, the previous scholarship does not give students an advantage in the application process. In fact, Copes was turned down for the Flagship Scholarship last year, but that did not deter him from applying again.
“I described receiving Point’s Community College Scholarship as equivalent to getting my first COVID shot: I wanted to get my second shot to get the full vaccination, to get the full drive to become the changemaker that I want to be,” said Copes.
“I describe Andreas as ‘wunderbar.’ Everyone assumes it means wonderful, but it’s more than an adjective: it’s a phenomenon,” said Gratson. “When someone is wunderbar, they are awe-inspiring.” (Photo by Joseph V. Labolito)
At Temple, Copes became a member and event coordinator of the Queer Student Union, eventually establishing a Queer History of Philadelphia Zoom conference; he became actively involved with Planned Parenthood; he hosted The World at Temple; and he co-created, co-produced and hosted Queer Temple.
Copes knew he wanted to attend Temple ever since he moved to the U.S. from Germany. Though he considered other schools, Temple’s style of hands-on learning and reputation in the broadcasting industry made Copes certain of his choice.
Gratson, who both teaches and mentors Copes, encouraged him to pursue the communication studies major, rather than strictly journalism, to help widen his horizons and career prospects. Copes has also seized the flexibility within the major of building his own curriculum to take many classes on feminist issues and gender studies.
“When I’m writing and producing stories, I want to make sure that I’m thinking about the wider LGBTQIA+ community, and intersectional issues,” said Copes. “QT is broadcasting a message of love, hope and togetherness.”
According to Gratson, Copes optimizes all forms of communication to connect people within the queer community and to give voices to those who are often unheard.
“Andreas brilliantly uses various media to create understanding of how media have also silenced the LGBTQ+ community,” said Gratson. “Anything that he has done always leads back to one centralized point, which is the empowerment and inclusion of that community.”
Copes’ goal is to continue to empower marginalized communities, to help them take control of their own narratives and to tell stories that are about so much more than the violence they have suffered through.
“To see the people who are scholars of Point Foundation, and who they become later in life, means this organization sees the same potential in me,” he said.