Congratulations to our 2023 scholarship recipients!
David & Sharon Alexander Scholars for Education Studies
Amanda Escheman is a Ph.D. candidate for Critical Studies in Education at the University of Colorado. Her goal is to become a scholar-activist who uses her research to advocate for equitable educational opportunities. Amanda’s primary focus is on critical digital literacy, where it intersects with vulnerable populations. In particular, she is working on scholarship that addresses the impacts of false news narratives on vulnerable groups, including LGBTQIA+ populations.
Currently, Amanda sits on the LGBTQIA+ Committee through Denver Classroom Teachers Association as a board member where she develops resources and programs to support LGBTQ+ students and staff, as well as advocating for inclusive policies and practices in schools. Previously, she served on the Jeffco LGBTQ+ Employee Work Group and founded and sponsored a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) at a local middle school.
Looking ahead, Amanda plans to support the LGBTQIA+ community by incorporating LGBTQIA+ history and experiences into her classroom curriculum, advocating for inclusive policies and practices, and volunteering with local LGBTQIA+ organizations.
Frederick “Rick” Shaw is a Graduate student of Learning, Development and Family Sciences at the Friends School Teacher Preparation Program associated with the University of Colorado. He is currently a Teacher Candidate at Dawson School and directs the elementary Drama Club where he has nurtured his own voice for BIPOC and
LGBTQI students on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. Rick has taught International English and Drama/Musical Teacher for more than a decade in Seoul, Korea and Shanghai, China before returning to care for his mother who was diagnosed with Early-Onset Dementia/Alzheimer’s at the age of 58. He has also taught English to
refugees and new immigrants and tutored students online.
Rick is dedicated to do work in the healing community. As a facilitator for the Boulder County Health and Open Space Mountain Parks, he is focused on brining BIPOC and LGBTQI people out in nature for healing. His work extends to those in recovery from drugs, alcohol, trauma, and pain by creating and facilitating healing programs, including that of his own childhood.
Rick’s primary focus of advocacy is directed to LGBTQI, multi-language learners, immigrants and anyone experiencing any type of trauma and violence at home. He hopes his work in education provides powerful advocacy in assuring that every student is seen, nurtured, and prepared, so they can reach their highest potential. Rick hopes his advocacy work will create a ripple effect in the lives of others.
Jordon Connor Memorial Scholars for Mental Health Related Studies
Andrew “Drew” McGee is a PdD student in Developmental Psychology at University of Denver with an emphasis in Early Childhood Development. Through his studies, Drew has come to understand the significant impact that education has on the lives of children and family’s and has gained a deep appreciation for the importance of early
intervention and prevention in addressing mental health issues.
Drew co-leads a confidential LGBTQ affinity group within his department and provides support and connection for
students by offering advocacy and engagement and further serves the Denver LGBTQ community as an advocate and support and hopes to further served the community working with the Point Foundation, the Center
on Colfax, and OneColorado.
Rick was influenced by his grandmother spirit of service. She embodied Kahlil Gibran’s words, “Work is love made
visible,” and this is what Rick aspires too by making a meaningful difference in the lives and children’s and families. His goal is to provide effective and culturally responsive services to underserved and marginalized communities across system levels, from policy to individual intervention research.
Miguel Lander is a Graduate Student in Social Work at Metropolitan State University. Miguel is a strong advocate for underserved communities. By working in client case management and practicing behavioral healthcare as a clinical therapist intern, he hopes to continue to achieve his goals of pursuing licensure and providing clinical
mental health therapies.
Born in Caracas, Venezuela, Miguel was adopted and came to the US as a young boy and quickly learned as
his own intersections as Latino immigrant and foreigner who only spoke Spanish. Growing up as a queer youth,
he learned even more through difficult lessons and the stigma that came with his HIV diagnosis 15 years ago
served as another stringent teacher. In spite of these challenges, Miguel feels privileged to be where he is today.
Miguel is a clinical professional who offers multiculturally adaptive counseling to Coloradoans
struggling with mental health. He has built a competent foundation of clinical social work skills in case management, clinical assessments, treatment planning, and counseling and his experience as a Spanish interpretor has
informed his growth and made him appreciate the need and value in helping non-English speakers find their voice. Miguel desires to provide mental health services to the LGBTQIA+ community, continue to advocate for those with HIV/AIDS, and for other diverse populations.
The Alexander Foundation Scholars
Samuel Ton is a undergraduate student working toward a Bachelors Degree in Psychology at the University of Colorado. With a concern for LGBTQ+ and BIPOC communities, he hopes to provide mental health counseling to those who struggle to find representation in that field.
Samuel is a high achiever and a strong advocate for the LGBTQ community. He has spoken on various panels and interned with Creative Strategies for Change in Denver. Samuel desires to become financially independent and as someone who has faced challenges in living his authentic self, he hopes to create safe spaces for others.
Aleksander Korolainen is a high school senior who will be attending Colorado State University in the fall to pursue a degree in Political Science. At CSU, Alek hopes to continue his advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community and his proven track record in his school, district, and his local community leave no question that he will have a tremendous impact in Northern Colorado.
He is currently involved in his school’s GSA and has served in a variety of roles and supports his community through Sources of Strength and the Student Health Advisory Council. He is a vocal advocate in the fight against book banning that targets LGBTQ+ literature, Alek hopes to pursue a Master’s degree abroad in Non-Governmental Organizations and eventually secure employment with a globally-focused nonprofit. He believes that this career path will provide him with a unique opportunity to support LGBTQ+ causes on a global scale. Alek is committed to continuing conversations that lead to initiatives that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion for LGBTQ+ persons.
Kaylyn Bailey, Psychology
Melisa Balke, Psychology
Eliot Benson, Dance
Maze D’Amico, Engineering
Bradley Davis, Engineering
Melia Dobson, Art/English
Kadence Elrod, Marketing
Katherine Haertl, Political Science
Anna Hughes, Psychology
Ariel Levine, Psychology-Counseling
Hannah Mahaffery, Social Work
Jasmine McKenna, Psychology-Counseling
Emmett Nicol, EMT
Corina Ruiz, Nurtrition
Maxim Thuell, Philosophy
Natalie Weaver, Music Therapy