Tim Bresnahan, 26, Chicago-Kent College of Law
-State of shock: 'I was shocked when I found out I was a scholar,' Bresnahan said. 'All of the finalists went to San Francisco for interviews and we got to interact with each other. There were a lot of deserving people in the room. It was awakening to find out about the struggles some of the other people have gone through.'
-We are family: 'My parents separated when I was very young, and my mom raised three kids on her own,' he said. 'There were struggles, but they weren't LGBT-related.'
-Coming out: Bresnahan actually had a 'very positive experience' when he came out his freshman year at Georgetown University. 'I had support at school and my family couldn't have been better about it,' he said. 'I was very lucky; I know that.'
-The Maine event: Bresnahan was raised in southern Maine. 'I grew up the next town over from [ up-and-coming gay mecca ] Ogunquit,' he said. 'Southern coastal Maine is pretty affluent and educated, and there's more tolerance than you might think. It can be isolated sometimes, but Boston is only an hour and a half away.'
-Hitting the books: 'I'm looking forward to being in an environment of learning again,' said Bresnahan, who will start his first year in law school this fall. 'I'm excited to deal with the challenge of reading and writing every day.'
-How he heard about the Point Foundation: Bresnahan co-chaired a Human Rights Campaign-Chicago dinner and talked with a board member who mentioned it.
-What the scholarship means to him: 'I feel honored to be acknowledged as a young LGBT leader,' he said. 'This [ award ] also means opportunity; it's an opportunity to further myself and to be even more able to become a leader. The Point Foundation is a young organization and the work they've been able to do...they're such a dedicated group of leaders.'
Derrick Clifton, 18, Pomona College
-School daze: Going to Chicago's Walter Payton College Prep turned out to be a rude awakening for Clifton. 'There were quite a few students who were ignorant on LGBT-related issues, and I had to deal with that,' he said. 'It was [ tough ] to deal with that and focus. However, things became better once people became more aware.' ( The school, incidentally, has had a gay-straight alliance for years. )
-Confidence game: Clifton actually felt pretty confident about his chances of winning a scholarship. 'I felt pretty good,' he said. 'I knew it was going to be a rigorous interview, but I felt good about what I did in high school.'
-Mother's day: Clifton cited his mother as the most inspiring person in his life. 'She was the main one who always pushed me into higher education,' he said.
-California dreamin': The Chicagoan's college choices came down to Northwestern, the University of Chicago, Amherst ( Mass. ) College and West Coast school Pomona. 'I knew I wanted to go to Northwestern [ for a long time ] , but I figured that I should probably move out of state and get to know a new environment,' he said. 'Plus, I like [ Pomona's ] sociology and public policy track.'
-How he found out about the Point Foundation: 'I was researching for scholarships during my senior year and found a list of LGBT-related scholarships at [ the University of Illinois at Chicago's ] Web site,' Clifton said. 'Then I found the Point Foundation and read everything I could about the group.'
-What appealed about the foundation: 'There are so many amazing people involved with the foundation—not just students, but also the staff and board members,' Clifton said. 'Everyone has amazing stories, and they're doing [ incredible ] things for the community.'
-What the scholarship means to him: 'It's a scholarship but they also seek to train you and help you as an individual,' he said. 'They also want you to be involved in the community, and that means a lot to me.'
Lilia Espinoza, 18, Columbia University
-Coming out: Espinoza came out her freshman year in high school, and she called the experience 'interesting.' 'My mom asked me and I said yes,' she added. 'School was actually interesting because people didn't believe me at first. [ Also, ] it wasn't too hard because Whitney Young was the first Chicago public high school to have a gay-straight alliance, so there was this mostly-open atmosphere.'
-Mentor fitness: Espinoza has not been assigned a mentor yet ( one of the scholarship's stipulations ) , but she is looking forward to getting one. 'It's interesting because I'm part of Broadway Youth Center's mentor program, so I was excited to find out that I'd be getting a mentor through Point,' she said.
-A league of her own: Espinoza admitted to being a bit nervous about attending an Ivy League school in the fall. 'I'm intimidated because I'm going to be surrounded by really smart people, but I'm so excited because I've heard so many great things about it,' said Espinoza, who is interested in linguistics and humanities. 'Actually, I already have a summer reading assignment: We're supposed to read the first six books of The Iliad by the end of August.'
-Surf's up: One of Espinoza's passions actually involves surfing on Lake Michigan. 'A lot of people don't think it's true, but I live in East Rogers Park, so I'm right on the lake,' she said. 'I have a surfboard, so when the wind's just right, there are waves and you can surf them.'
-How she heard about the Point Foundation: 'I found out through a man I know through the Chicago Children's Choir,' Espinoza said. 'He came up to me and a couple of other people and said that we should apply for [ the scholarship ] .'
-What the scholarship means to her: 'Having the scholarship means that I can give back to the LGBT community in a way that I never thought was possible,' she said. 'There's such an amazing network of people in this organization.'