Two new scholarships support LGBTQA+ community in engineering and the arts

May 29, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Two new scholarships are providing financial support for the LGBTQA+ community in the College of Engineering and the College of Arts and Architecture.

Steve Artz and Tom Strickler have endowed both scholarships through the LGBTQA Student Resource Center, a unit of Penn State Student Affairs, as a way to give back to the University and to provide assistance for students who may struggle with finding acceptance and may not have the financial resources to otherwise attend the University.

“I wanted to help students who have a need, but to also target a field that historically has not been as welcoming as some other fields are to LGBTQA people,” said Strickler. “In addition, the resource center helped me at a time when I was struggling a little bit in my life, so I wanted to give back to people that are involved with or support the center.”

Strickler attended Penn State as an adult learner and received his bachelor’s degree in engineering science and mechanics from Penn State in 1993. For the past 21 years, Strickler has worked in production management at State of the Art, Inc., a manufacturing firm in State College.

Artz graduated from Penn State with a bachelor’s degree in art education in 1974 and remained in State College. He worked for 40 years as sole proprietor and partner in several downtown retail businesses. He also taught marketing and management courses at South Hills School of Business and Technology during the 2005-06 academic year. During that time, he was given the opportunity to develop an arts appreciation course. In 2012 he returned to the school for one semester to teach a retailing course.

Artz currently manages the Penn State Palmer Museum of Art gift store but will be fully retiring in June of this year.

Over the years, Artz has been impacted by the personal stories of LGBTQA individuals whose families did not accept them. He had an especially impactful experience with a close acquaintance who took his own life, Artz said, because of what he felt to be a lack of acceptance.

Artz hopes the financial support these scholarships provide will give students the opportunity to express themselves and achieve their full potential in a way that they may not otherwise have.

“If we can encourage people to believe in themselves and move forward, hopefully there will be a change that they can make, which will in turn make change throughout the world,” said Artz.

Both scholarships were awarded for the first time in April during the LGBTQA Student Resource Center’s Lavender Graduation.

The Tom Strickler and Steve Artz Engineering Scholarship was awarded to Ouniol Aklilu, a biomedical engineering major. The scholarship provides financial assistance to undergraduate students enrolled or planning to enroll at Penn State University Park who advocate for or contribute to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and ally (LGBTQA) community and are enrolled or planning to enroll in the College of Engineering.

The Steve Artz and Tom Strickler Arts and Architecture Scholarship was awarded to Kaitlyn Whitesell, an acting student. The scholarship provides financial assistance to undergraduate students enrolled or planning to enroll at Penn State University Park who advocate for or contribute to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and ally (LGBTQA) community and are enrolled or planning to enroll in the College of Arts and Architecture or other academic unit that focuses on visual and performing arts, art, dance, music or education.  

“We are extremely fortunate to have alumni and donors who are invested in supporting the students,” said Brian Patchcoski, director of the LGBTQA Student Resource Center. “Tom and Steve’s contribution will make an impact in the lives of students for many years to come.”

Members of the University and community can support the LGBTQ+ community by visiting giveto.psu.edu/LGBTQAcenter or contacting Willie West, associate director of development for Student Affairs at wdw11@psu.edu.

This gift will advance "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. With the support of alumni and friends, “A Greater Penn State” seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a twenty-first-century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hardworking students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit greaterpennstate.psu.edu.

Last Updated May 30, 2019