Ben Finzel, President of RENEWPR, a boutique communications firm in Washington, D.C., has established the RENEWPR LGBTQIA Endowed Scholarship at the Texas Tech Alumni Association for LGBTQIA students at Texas Tech University (his alma mater). According to Finzel, it will provide an annual scholarship for an LGBTQIA student in the college of Arts and Sciences or any LGBTQIA student in a college at Texas Tech who plans to study abroad. The first scholarship was awarded last summer and the second will be announced soon.
According to Finzel: “Launching this scholarship is about more than giving back – although that is part of the motivation – it’s also about recognizing the life experience and insight that I gained as a student at Texas Tech University more than 30 years ago. And it’s about helping the next generation of LGBTQIA students to have the opportunities I did to study both at home and abroad. College is hard enough: imagine being an LGBTQIA kid with limited financial means. And then imagine being an LGBTQIA kid who feels like a fish out of water because they are in an unknown environment that is nothing like the one they came from. Yep, that was me.
“Don’t get me wrong. I loved my experience as a student at Texas Tech University. And I’m very proud of the Bachelor of Arts degree I earned in 1989. But it wasn’t always easy. And I was only able to attend Texas Tech and study abroad (which I did for a semester in Salzburg, Austria) because of the generosity of my grandparents who helped fund my education and because Texas Tech offered a study abroad scholarship (which I was the first person to be awarded it to).”
Finzel states the scholarship started small – $500 a year – but “I hope to expand it to $1,000 in the years ahead and I’ll be looking for other ways to help ensure that the next generation of LGBTQIA students has additional resources to foster a well-rounded education that will open up opportunities to them to go out and change the world.”