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VU students land scholarships from LGBTQ foundation

Jul. 17, 2014, 9:10 AM

Two Vanderbilt students — Ishan Asokan and Kale Edmiston — have been named to the 2014 Class of Point Foundation Scholars.

The Point Foundation is the largest scholarship granting organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) students. The awards are given to students who excel academically but also exhibit top-notch leadership skills and community involvement. Each scholar is paired with a mentor and participates in leadership development training.

Ishan Asokan

Asokan, a third-year Vanderbilt University School of Medicine student, has worked with the Comprehensive Care Clinic as well as organizations in Africa, India and the Middle East. He is interested in global health and advocacy in the LGBTQI community.

“I want to represent my community in medicine,” said Asokan. “Advocacy is a huge part of what I want to be as a leader in science. Vanderbilt has given me tremendous resources to help me accomplish my goals, including assisting me in receiving the Point Foundation award. I feel so lucky to have this opportunity.”

Kale Edmiston

Asokan is a co-founder of the Physicians for Human Rights group at Vanderbilt. He also received the Janssen Therapeutics Point Scholar award, a named scholarship introduced in 2014.

Edmiston, a Ph.D. candidate at Vanderbilt, studies the neuroendocrine system, stress and social behavior and expects to graduate in 2016. He is the president of the Vanderbilt Neuroscience Student Organization.

Edmiston, who helps run a Vanderbilt musical theater camp for children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders, said he came upon the scholarship while searching for funding options for his graduate education.

He is most interested in improving health care access for transgender people and has provided transgender health care training to providers throughout the country since 2004.

“I had been doing quite a bit of work organized around transgender health care at Vanderbilt and was looking for scholarships to fund transgender people engaged in this kind of work,” he said.

“These kinds of support — financial, mentorship and community — are so important because we are underrepresented in our fields.”

Both students will receive financial support, approximately $25,000 each year, to complete their studies over the next two years.

“We are delighted that the Point Foundation has recognized the leadership and contributions that Kale and Ishan have made to advance LGBTQ health at Vanderbilt and beyond,” said Jesse Ehrenfeld, M.D., associate professor of Anesthesiology, Surgery and Biomedical Informatics at Vanderbilt. “This award is a clear demonstration of the impact our students are having on the world around them.”

Asokan and Edmiston join 21 other students as 2014 scholarship recipients.

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