Fran Page, a junior theatre arts and childhood studies major from Bradford, N.H. is the first recipient of the John K. Walsh Scholarship at Plymouth State College. The scholarship will be presented at a reception Friday, October 18, at 4 p.m. at the Frost Academic Commons off School Street.
The Walsh Scholarship was created to benefit a current or entering student who has shown leadership in his/her school community with regard to the rights and activities of gay or lesbian individuals.
Page talks openly about the difficulties he experienced as a gay adolescent in a public high school, The first openly gay student in his high school, he missed 70 days of school one year, too afraid or too ill from stress to go to school. But when he repeated his senior year, he connected with a teacher who wanted to find ways to help gay and lesbian students get value from their education, and interrupt the harassment they were experiencing. Together, Page and the teacher created a theatre piece, “Voices.”
Page says, “I found a monologue that expressed exactly the place I was in at the time, and performed it. That helped people get close to me – to understand my perspective and the perspective of other students. Administrators and teachers and students started coming to me and talking about their friends and family members who are gay, and asking good questions. Finally, we were talking. And one of the students who had been a particular tormenter even came to me and said, ‘I liked your speech.’ I think that experience sparked my interest in activism.”
That activism is one of the reasons Page was selected to receive the inaugural Walsh Scholarship. Since his arrival at Plymouth State, Page has been an officer in the campus gay/straight alliance, ALSO.
John Walsh, in whose honor the scholarship was created, was raised in New York City. .As a boy he came to summer camp in New Hampshire, and while teaching at Berkeley he visited friends at Plymouth State College. The Fund was after Walsh’s death, by Billy Bussell Thompson, Professor Walsh’s life partner.
Dr. Roger Tinnell, PSC professor of Spanish who facilitated the gift to PSC says, “A proud and openly gay man, Jack Walsh supported the struggle for equality under the law and for recognition of the rights and responsibilities of all citizens. This scholarship fund is particularly important in our rural environment.”
For information on the John K. Walsh Scholarship at Plymouth State College, or to make a gift to the fund, contact the Development Office at 535-2212.