School and Community Pride

LGBT Devils’ Pride Alumni Chapter raises funds for scholarships at annual dinner

By Hana Khalyleh – March 26, 2015

The LGBT Devils’ Pride Chapter of the ASU Alumni Association hosted its third annual benefit dinner March 14, 2015, with the goal of adding to the LGBT Devils’ Pride Community Leadership Scholarship.

SONY DSCThe Community Leadership Scholarship is one of only two ASU scholarships awarded specifically to LGBT and ally students, and currently offers $2,000 to students who exhibit leadership and a deep involvement in the LGBT community, according to Gabriel Escontrias, LGBT Devils’ Pride Chapter president.

The dinner, which took place at the Old Main building on the Tempe campus, featured entertainment, raffle drawings for various prizes and a silent auction for art and community gifts by Arizona artists and retailers.

With the proceeds from the benefit dinner, combined with donations collected online throughout the year at, LGBT Devils’ Pride Chapter hopes to increase the amount offered to $5,000 and eventually offer scholarship opportunities to more than one student, Escontrias said.

“The main goal is about education and for the children of the LGBT community to be presented with an opportunity,” said Nicholas Murray, Sun Devil Pride Alumni Chapter vice president.

As of last year’s dinner, which welcomed nearly 140 guests, the LGBT Devils’ Pride Chapter raised nearly $10,000, which has since been distributed and set aside for two Community Leader Scholarships, according to the LGBT Devil Pride Chapter’s website.

According to Escontrias, this year’s benefit dinner featured about 200 guests.

“We want to bring attention and a great opportunity to someone involved in the LGBT community on and off campus, rewarding activism in young people at ASU,” Escontrias said.

SONY DSCAndrew Hirst and Melissa Modifer, a singer-songwriter and musical theatre student at ASU, performed original music during the dinner before the keynote speaker, Bill Konigsberg, award winning author, sports writer and ASU alumnus, shared his own coming out story and the challenges of being gay in the sports industry.

“No one told me I couldn’t be a sports writer, I told myself,” Konigsberg said. “No one could ever limit me as much as I have limited myself.”

Konigsberg, writer in residence at the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing, made waves in the sports world with his 2002 GLAAD Media Award-winning essay, “Sports world still a struggle for gays,” in which he came out professionally as ESPN’s first openly gay sports writer.

Within the essay, which he read during his keynote address, he wrote, “Being gay in sports shouldn’t be a big deal, but until someone does it publicly and shows they can do their job, do it well, and be known as gay, it simply will be a big deal. Before we can say it doesn’t matter, we have to accept the fact it exists.”

The 2015-2016 recipient of the Community Leadership Scholarship, Arturo Nikolas Rojas, is a Dean’s List freshman currently pursuing a degree in Life Sciences-Forensics, with an ultimate goal of attending medical school.

“This scholarship means opportunity for me, and a chance to prosper as a student,” Rojas said.

The Greater Phoenix Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, Schuster Printing & Marketing and Echo Magazine were sponsors of this event.

For more information on the LGBT Devils’ Pride Chapter of the ASU Alumni Association, visit