Established in 2005 with a $50,000 challenge gift from the late John A. Herring (a former Newcomb Hall director), the Fund which was matched subsequently through individual gifts in five years, and was first awarded in 2011 to Marcus Hall, College ’12.
With the addition of Mr. Herring’s bequest to the Serpentine Society and beginning in 2015, two $5,000 scholarships are awarded annually to two current students, either undergraduate or graduate, of any year who demonstrate leadership, citizenship, and fellowship and have actively supported, through volunteerism and advocacy, the LGBTQ Center at the University of Virginia. Rather than self-nomination, the recipient will be selected through nominations submitted from peers, students, faculty, staff, and alumni.
The student will be known for their exemplary acts of kindness toward people of diverse backgrounds and their participation in the education of others. This person will welcome and encourage a multitude of perspectives and not be a “one book person.”
Any questions concerning the scholarship may be directed via email to the Chair of the Herring Scholarship, Blake Calhoun at firstname.lastname@example.org.
John Herring Scholars
Lauren Habig | 2020 Darden
Lauren Habig received her MBA from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. As president of Pride at Darden (PAD), the LGBTQ Club at UVA’s Graduate School of Business, Lauren worked to increase visibility of the LGBTQ-people on grounds and made strides in building LGBTQ community at UVA. Lauren supported the scaling up of the annual Drag Show, with over 500 people in attendance to raise money for local LGBTQ youth services. She also created initiatives between the first and second-year students focused on building strong relationships and better pathways of communication between the two classes. In the broader Darden community, she helped bring an interactive Pronoun Workshop to grounds and served on the 2nd Annual Diversity Week and Lem Lewis Scholarship committees.
Prior to attending Darden, Lauren worked at a nonprofit organization helping to scale sustainable financing solutions for government and nonprofit clients. When she is not working or studying, Lauren enjoys cycling, swimming, and any other activity that gets her and her partner outside.
Blair Smith | 2021 College
Blair is originally from South Riding, Virginia. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Political & Social Thought in 2021. Blair interned with the UVA LGBTQ Center during his second and third years. In this role, he led the “Love is” Valentine’s Day campaign for LGBTQ+ awareness, the Q*nect Coffee Hour series that connected trans/queer undergraduate and graduate students, and an LGBTQ+ Leadership Series. Blair also coordinated the Center’s Speaker’s Bureau and Queer Brunch series. He enjoyed participating in the Center’s relocation from Newcomb Hall’s Lower Level to the building’s Third Floor in 2020.
During his fourth year, Blair served as the President of the Queer Student Union at UVA. He worked to cultivate community and create support systems for LGBTQ+ students amidst the unusual circumstances that accompanied COVID-19. Blair oversaw QSU’s first virtual Pride in June of 2020, which included book clubs, movie viewings, and a compilation of UVA trans/queer student’s creative works.
Outside of these involvements, Blair sang Bass in the University Singers and Chamber Singers choral ensembles. He plans to pursue a career in education.
Herring Scholarship 2020 Honorable Mentions
- Hunter Wagenaar
- Abigail Staub
Marie Olavere-Terry | 2019 College
Marie Olavere-Terry graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences in 2019 with a B.A. in History. During her time at UVa, Marie focused her efforts in her academics, creative outlets, and especially, her community of fellow Hoos and Houstonians. Upon entering into the University, Marie made it a goal to continue the work of predecessors of improving conditions for all individuals in Charlottesville and her hometown of Houston, TX. In pursuit of this goal, she served as the Vice President of Community Engagement for the Queer Student Union, acted as an officer for Athletes for Equality, and interned for the UVa LGBTQ Center as its Operations, then Engagement intern. In the summer before her third year, Marie also co-founded of PLUS+, an LGBTQ faith group on Grounds to provide a space for LGBT and questioning folks of faith to discuss their being and be free of prejudice. Both in Charlottesville and in Houston, Marie mentored LGBTQ youth. When she wasn’t busy with school, she sang with both the University Singers and Chamber Singers, served as a Producer for the 2016 Music Arts Board, and acted as a Fourth Year Trustee for UVa’s Bicentennial Class.
Marie currently serves as a Post-Graduate Trustee for the Class of 2019 through the UVa Alumni Association. After graduating, Marie joined AmeriCorps VISTA to continue to serve LGBTQ Houstonians at the Montrose Center where she creates cost-tracking systems for the HEB Emergency Food Pantry and forms new programming for its community center. In the future, she plans to attend law school where she hopes to achieve a J.D./MBA dual-degree.
Zoe Pettler | 2019 Philosophy
Zoe Pettler received her Master’s degree from the Corcoran Department of Philosophy in 2019. She also received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia and graduated with the highest distinction in 2018 with a double major in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies and Religious Studies. While at UVA, Zoe served as the Vice President of Education for the Queer Student Union, the Programs Intern for the LGBTQ Center, an executive board member of QueerGrads, and the Serpentine Society Intern. Her work supporting the LGBTQ+ community also included a position as Communications Intern with Equality Virginia.
Zoe’s academic interests have been focused on issues of gender and sexuality even as she has shifted between departments. Her undergraduate thesis explored temporality and intimacy in queer women’s relationships. Her qualifying paper for her M.A. discussed the boundaries of queer community spaces, with particular emphasis on the inclusion of marginalized members of the LGBTQ+ community. Her most recent academic project was designing and teaching a nine-day gender studies course for middle and high school students as part of UVA’s Summer Enrichment Program. Zoe plans to continue her academic work in the field of philosophy and will be pursuing her Ph.D. in the near future.
Shaun Khurana | 2018 College
Shaun Khurana received his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia (UVA) College of Arts and Sciences in 2018. While at UVA, he received the Kishore Memorial Scholarship and the Garrett Memorial Internship Grant. His LGBTQ advocacy work includes time serving as the Serpentine Society Intern, as President of the Queer Student Union at UVA, as the Speakers Bureau Intern then Operations Intern with the UVA LGBTQ Center, and as a Program Intern with the statewide advocacy organization Equality Virginia.
Shaun helped the Office of Admission implement an LGBTQ identifier question on the UVA undergraduate application. He also created the Open Housing Advisory Board, which works to include the voices of impacted students in the administrative decision making process for gender-neutral housing accommodations. He also raised over $8000 to implement the Queer Community Partnership Program which bridges together major sections of the student community (racial, religious, Greek, military, etc) in dialogue to dispel queerphobia and create social acceptance of LGBTQ people in each respective community.
After graduating from UVA, Shaun moved to Columbus, Ohio to pursue his Master of Public Administration (MPA) at The Ohio State University. He is currently working as a Graduate Research Associate and is conducting social policy research. He is passionate about the intersection of human rights and administrative law, and hopes attend law school to pursue a career in government and public service.
Kevin Westfiled | 2019 College
Kevin Westfield is studying Global English Literature and Culture and Women, Gender, and Sexuality. She is the President of the Queer Student Union and the Outreach intern at the LGBTQ Center. Kevin is from South Florida originally and is preparing herself for the winters Chicago where she will be working with Bain&Company after graduation. She has dedicated much of herself to the advancement of the Queer Community on Grounds, and is in the process of creating a Queer Academy of Leadership and Empowerment.
Khanh Tran | 2017 College
Khanh Tran is a fourth year in the College studying Computer Science and Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies. Originally pursuing a future in pharmacy, he quickly discovered that chemistry was not his forte and stepped away from that path. He now considers himself a Programmer and a Queer Rights Activist. He is currently the Vice President of Sigma Omicron Rho (UVa and the country’s only Queer and Allied Gender-Inclusive Fraternity), an active panel speaker on the LGBTQ Center’s Speakers Bureau, and a volunteer for the LGBTQ Center. He identifies as a Vietnamese-American, Transgender Male (he/him or they/them pronouns if you were wondering!) and came out during his second year. After coming out, he was determined to make UVA a safer space for gender non-conforming students. Post-graduation, Khanh hopes to do something that would allow him to combine his love for tech with his passion for activism. He wants to continue to help people and wants whatever he will be doing in the future to be meaningful and beneficial to society.
During the Fall of 2015, Khanh met with Dr. Christopher Holstege, Executive Direct of Student Health, to address issues faced by gender non-conforming students when they visit Student Health. Through my meeting, Student Health has undergone a reform of its training programs to make sure receptionists, nurses, and health care providers are sensitive and respectful to preferred name and pronouns. Spring 2016, him and his partner developed a mobile application version of the LGBTQ Center’s website in order for students to have more accessibility to resources such as an upcoming events feed and the gender-neutral bathroom map. The biggest feature of this app is to allow students to find the closest gender-neutral bathroom using their phones instead of having to pull out their laptops.
Since coming out as trans during second year, Khanh has had to navigate the process of transitioning here at UVa. He decided to document the entire process and is currently working on a resource guide to transitioning at UVa in the hopes that he can help out students through his experiences. The resource guide will include information on trans-friendly health care providers, resources that are available to students, the process of changing your name in UVa’s systems depending on if your name is legally changed or not, and the medical transitioning process through the Teen Health Center. He hopes to have this guide finished and released as a resource to students by the time he graduates in May.
Carrie Myatt | 2017 College
Carrie Myatt studied Women, Gender, and Sexuality in the College of Arts & Sciences. The interdisciplinary nature of her course work combines her interests in feminist and queer theories with policy and organizing practices. Her extracurricular work has included involvement with various social justice initiatives, such as the Queer Student Union and Queer and Allied Activism.
Outside of the University, Carrie has spent her time involved with various non-profit organizations in Richmond, Virginia. During an academic leave of absence, she volunteered with the Fan Free Clinic assisting with managing records for HIV prevention efforts and with Opportunity, Alliance, Reentry tutoring formerly incarcerated community members in computer skills.
In Summer 2016, she completed a Program internship with Equality Virginia, a statewide nonprofit LGBT rights, education, and advocacy organization. In this position, she worked on outreach for the Transgender Advocacy Speakers Bureau and the Equality Means Business Campaign. In addition to outreach, Carrie researched and wrote for various Equality Virginia publications about LGBT policy on state and national levels.
During her second year she completed a Health Education internship with the LGBTQ Center and will be returning as the Programs intern for the 2016-2017 academic year. In this position, continued her work with the Safe Space Training program and expanding the scope and depth of the LGBTQ Center’s programming.
When not working on social justice initiatives, Carrie spends time with her frat
The 2015 John A. Herring Scholarship for Social Awareness award recipients are Brandon Chinn (Darden ’15) and Thomas Pilnik (College ’16).
Brandon Chinn (Darden ’15)
Brandon Chinn received his MBA from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, where he earned the C. Steward Sheppard Distinguished Service Award, the Keven Bewley Memorial Scholarship, and the Faculty Award for Academic Excellence. He served as the president of Pride at Darden (PAD), making great strides for LGBTQ MBAs in admissions, fundraising, and campus climate.
Brandon organized a silent auction, which raised over $11,000 for Darden’s endowment for LGBTQ scholarships, as well as $1,000 for the Blue Ridge PFLAG Chapter. While president of Pride at Darden, Brandon also improved the admissions process for LGBTQ applicants, successfully orchestrating the addition of an “LGBTQ check box” to Darden’s application. During Brandon’s tenure as PAD President, Darden, for the first time ever, offered over 3 LGBTQ scholarships to prospective students through the ROMBA fellowship.
Furthermore, Brandon led the charge to improve Darden’s inclusion score (measured by the FriendFactor MBA Challenge) by 30%, thanks to several educational events on campus such as an Ask Me Anything lunch, a GAYme Night Cold Call, a National Coming Out Day First Coffee, and the annual Darden Drag Show. Prior to attending Darden, Brandon was active in the queer theatre community working with companies such as Re:Directions Theatre, Theatre Askew, and the Actors Theatre of Louisville, where he played a leading role in The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later, An Epilogue. After his time at UVa, Brandon will join Peer Insight as a Senior Innovation Consultant in Washington, D.C.
Thomas Pilnik (College ’16)
Thomas Pilnik is studied Cognitive Science and Studio Art in the College. Initially considering a life in Architecture, he quickly transferred into the College to explore a more holistic and extracurricular focused education. In recent years, Thomas has been significantly involved in the University Programs Council, Orientation and New Student Programs, and the Minority Rights Coalition amongst others.
Through his involvement in a wide variety of student groups, he has been able to interact with a wide array of students and listen to their concerns. Because of this, in the fall of 2014 he worked to start the Multicultural Student Center Initiative with a group of six other students. The MSCI has opened up the challenge of bringing an inclusive, resourceful, and collaborative space to the University. Through this, they hope to expand the dialogue surrounding diversity and inclusion with The Center acting as the starting point. Post-graduation, Thomas intends to pursue a career in Higher Education and Student Affairs to further the ability of universities to create truly open-minded, well-rounded, and global citizens.
Greg Lewis is a fourth-year student and Echols Scholar double majoring in Media Studies and Women, Gender & Sexuality. During the Spring 2014 semester, he worked to re-establish the previously defunct Queer & Allied Activism (QuAA), bringing a focus on social justice back to the University’s queer community. Greg helped plan QuAA’s Queering Spaces project, a visual campaign and open discussion which called out places at UVA that are unsafe for queer students and students of color. QuAA also partnered with the Middle Eastern Leadership Council (MELC) to organize a joint event called “Being Middle Eastern Has No Sexuality,” which brought together the vibrant Middle Eastern and queer communities for the first time in both organizations’ history. Under the mentorship of Professor Andre Cavalcante, Greg is currently researching gender-nonconforming, queer hip-hop performers, specifically focusing on New Orleans bounce artist Big Freedia. Greg served as the LGBTQ Center’s Marketing and Community Outreach intern for the 2013-2014 academic year, developing a unified visual brand and increasing the Center’s reach across the University. He helped plan and curate Reel Colors, a new queer film series hosted at the Center. At UVA, Greg is a Senior Resident in UVA’s Housing & Residence Life program and the 2014 recipient of the program’s DeSantis Family Scholarship. He has worked for an array of nonprofit organizations, including The Cavalier Daily, American Documentary | POV, the Century Foundation, and the Times Square Alliance. He has been recognized by the Virginia Coalition for Open Government, the Virginia Press Association, and the Institute for Practical Ethics. Greg hopes to pursue a career that combines his deep interest in queer theory, cultural studies, investigative journalism, and radical politics to further causes of social and economic justice.
Wo Chan now lives in Brooklyn, New York, pursuing passions in poetry, drag, and LGBT community enrichment. While a student at UVA, Wo was involved in a number of student groups, including serving as vice-President of the Queer Student Union, directing Live Homosexual Acts with Queer and Allied Activism, and helping form the very (un)official drag queen sisterhood known as the Proud University Sisters for Service. Beyond the University, Wo made himself known in Charlottesville and the surrounding area as well, making a strong effort to network with other LGBT groups like Charlottesville Pride, PFLAG, and Madison Equality. After a member of the LGBT community was assaulted on Grounds last November, Wo and many other leaders of the queer community led a Rally Against Hate Crimes that united many segments of the queer community under the same Rotunda, both literally and figuratively. As a drag queen, Wo has found himself representing the community in another totally unexpected way, performing at the first Charlottesvile Pride Festival and many other benefit shows including acts for Charlottesville’s AIDS Services Group and Lynchburg’s Pride Night. Academically, Wo’s poetry is very queer-centric, often exploring themes of performitivity, closetedness, the personal, complex intersectionality of biculturalism, gayness, and gender expression. Wo intends to pursue an MFA in Poetry in the following year, and hopes to add to the grand historic queerness of the American poetic cannon.
Katherine Mayfield ’12
Katie Mayfield studied fiction-writing and theatre. She’s been involved in a variety of LGBT organizations and causes since her first year, and she was one of two presidents of the Queer Student Union. Since arriving at UVa, Katie has organized educational meetings, protests, counter-protests, vigils, queer monologue shows, and Oscar Wilde plays infused with drag queens. Otherwise, Katie volunteered with VISAS an an ESL assistant to employees in the UVa hospital system, co-coordinated The Undergraduate Reading Series, works with elementary, middle, and high school students to help them develop their creative writing skills, and delights in conducting games of bingo for the residents of a local hospice. After she graduates, Katie hopes to write professionally and work to improve the lives of LGBT refugees, homeless youth, and veterans.
Marcus Hall ’12
Marcus Hall graduted from the College of Arts and Science, majoring in Spanish and Anthropology. He studied abroad twice, in Spain and Argentina. He co-coordinated two discussions/presentations at UVA relating to Africa-American queer identity and race as well as transgender issues. He has been a Peer Advisor and writer for the Office of African American Affairs. He worked in fundraising for the University, through the Phon-a-thon for two years. He has worked as a research assistant in the Curry School of Education under the Youth-Nex (UVA Center to Promote Effective Youth Development). Outside of academics he enjoys athletic activities like rowing and dance, plus experiencing the world through international foods. He wants to work in Youth Development in the future, particularly in the area of literacy enhancement for low-income minority students. He has enjoy his experience at UVA and continues to learn, grow, and persevere.
Prior year recipients are listed here.
Obituary of John A. Herring
He died on Friday, April 20, 2012 in Richmond, Virginia, the son of Dr. John A. Herring, Jr. and Evelyn Dulin Herring, formerly of Lexington, Kentucky. John attended Florida Military Academy (now Stetson Hall University) in St. Petersburg. After graduation from Florida Military Academy, he became a Cadet at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia. It was noted in “The Bomb,” the VMI yearbook, that one could hear Mr. Herring before one saw him because he was always whistling Beethoven or Bizet. Classical music and a love for the arts in general followed him the rest of his life.
After his commission, Herring served in the United States Air Force in Korea where he was a First Lieutenant and attaché‚ in the 49th Bomber Squad. Upon completing military service, John received a Master of Arts in History at the University of Virginia and became a lecturer for the E. I. du Pont de Nemours Company. Herring returned to Charlottesville in 1958 and became Assistant Dean and Director of Newcomb Hall at University of Virginia, a position he held until 1989. During his tenure at the University, John organized and produced the University’s Artists Series.
Because of his intense interests in music and the arts, he brought many world renowned performers to the University and Charlottesville community, including, Van Cliburn, Mischa Dichter, Julie Harris, The London Symphony, The Hague Philharmonic, and many illustrious Broadway productions. Often, he served tea and sherry after the performances. Many great artists attended gatherings at his antique filled home. His students relished the opportunity to meet these performers in a small setting. John took great pride in his association with the University and often said the Artists Series was his finest hour; the Series lasted for many years. Mr. Herring, as he was known to his students, was supportive and generous. John’s objective in life was to encourage education for his students and everyone he met. To that end, he worked tirelessly to let young people know there was a world beyond their immediate eyes, and to promote tolerance.
After retirement from the University of Virginia, John moved to Richmond and resumed his travels. He drove across the United States, and visited friends. A world traveler, Mr. Herring especially enjoyed his many visits to Europe. He had a special love and respect for Venice, Italy, and his Professor Robert O. Cuppy whom he said was his greatest teacher. An avid collector of fine art, his eye for detail was that of a connoisseur. To his friends, when he wanted to be the teacher, he would say, “well, that is pleasant, but it isn’t real.” John continued his pursuit of, and interest in, arts and antiquities for the remainder of his life. He donated a number of important pieces to the University of Virginia Art Museum, where he served on the collections committee.
A great supporter of the Serpentine Society, he provided scholarships to students in need to help them continue their studies. His friends and former students joined him in establishing the John Herring Scholarship for Social Awareness at University of Virginia. Herring was honored with the Distinguish Service Award by the University of Virginia Alumni Association, among others awards received during his tenure at University of Virginia. John Herring was preceded in death by his parents; twin sister, Jane (in infancy); and sister, Evelyn (Herring) Harmon.
Survivors include his nephew John Harman and wife, Patricia, of Bluefield, West Virginia; and their daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, both of whom are in doctoral programs of which he was very proud. In lieu of flowers contributions can be made in his memory to the John Herring Scholarship for Social Awareness care of the University of Virginia Alumni Association.
This obituary was originally published in the Daily Progress.