The IGLTA Foundation’s Building Bridges Scholarship program expands on an earlier IGLTA program called the Student Tourism Awards. Donovan Kaneshiro tells us about his experience as a 2011 participant in this program:
Attending the IGLTA Convention left me with great memories and also provided me with a new outlook on life and my career. It didn’t take very long for me to understand how fortunate I was to be in the presence of such influential individuals. This experience provided me with a new appreciation and fascination with LGBT Travel. The most memorable part of the conference would definitely have to be the people I met. Every IGLTA member welcomed me with open arms and was genuinely interested in educating me about the industry and IGLTA. The mentor program allowed me to establish meaningful connections and learn more about the travel industry.
I was so consumed by the various breakout sessions and speakers that I didn’t want the conference to end. Meeting and conversing with everyone allowed me to realize that my goals and dreams were attainable. This experience inspired me to go into the travel business and gave me the confidence I needed to succeed. I would highly recommend students to take full advantage of this opportunity because it is life changing. This experience was so meaningful that I was determined to see the continuation and growth of this award.
The following year I served as the IGLTA Student Coordinator for this award and was heavily involved in the application and selection process as well as overseeing the students and their success at the conference. Bringing students from the U.S. and Brazil was rewarding when I experienced them having that same life changing moment at the conference. Being a recipient of this award and being a part of its continual growth has forever impacted my life and career.
Since the 2011 IGLTA conference my future has blossomed, after graduating from the University of Nevada Las Vegas I went on to work for IGLTA Board Member Mya Reyes. I am currently working for Mya and her 5 companies, the Las Vegas Gay Visitors Bureau, Gay Vegas Travel, Maximum Meetings, Neon to Nature Tours and Mya Reyes & Associates. This award allowed me to make connections with key individuals in the industry and was a big influence to my interest and success in LGBT travel.
This year’s program will take place from May 1-5, in Chicago. For more information on the 2013 Building Bridges Scholarship, or to apply online, visit igltafoundation.org/scholarships. Applications are due by February 15th.
Views and opinions expressed in the IGLTA Foundation Blog are those of individual authors and do not reflect official policy or positions of IGLTA or the IGLTA Foundation.