2008 Queer Student of the Year Recipient: Diandra Santiago
Diandra Santiago is a 2008 graduate of Freedom High School in Bethlehem, PA where she was
the Vice President of Anime Club and one of the founding members of the Gay/Straight
Alliance. Diandra won the Blue and White Award from Penn State for Latino Recognition
and did over 200 hours of community service at the Country Meadows Retirement Home in
Bethlehem. In her free time, Diandra likes to draw and play video games. At Northampton
Community College, Diandra will major in the Veterinary Technician program and plans to
join the GLBT club, Anime club and Vet Tech club. Her career goals are to become a
marine biologist or a veterinary technician.
2008 Rainbow Award Recipient: sARAH ROTH
Sarah Roth graduated from William Allen High School in Allentown with high honors where
she was a member of the National Honor Society, Gay/Straight Alliance, the Key Club, and
Choir. She did volunteer work at Pride in the Park, Phoebe Home, Blood Drive, and
Daffodil Days and worked at Ahart’s Market in Allentown. Hobbies include crafts and
reading. Sarah will attend Moravian College where she will study Graphic Design. She
has not yet determined her career goals.
2007 RAINBOW AWARD RECIPIENT: Marc Luong
Marc Luong graduated with high honors from Louis E. Dieruff High School in Allentown, PA
where he had a non-weighted GPA of 3.977 and a weighted GPA of 4.575. He was a member of
the National Honors Society, Science Club, and an officer of Student Council. Marc
received the Kiska Award from Dieruff High School which is awarded to a senior student
who demonstrated academic achievement, loyalty, community service, and athletic ability
throughout high school.
Marc was in varsity wrestling, cross country and track & field and received Dieruff's
2006 LVIAC Scholar Athlete Nominee for Cross-country. He was also involved with the
Acceptance Club at Dieruff High School and the HAVEN Youth Group. His hobbies include
kickboxing, cleaning and organizing, running, and gardening.
Marc will be attending the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia with a major in
Doctor of Pharmacy and a minor in Biochemistry. He hopes to graduate with summa cum laude
as a doctor in Pharmacy and would like to become involved with the community around
Philadelphia. Marc would like to work in research and development to cure diseases and
plans to join the gay and lesbian medical association. He would like to work with either
the Peace Core or Doctors without Borders to aid those in foreign countries.
2007 QUEER STUDENT OF THE YEAR RECIPIENT: Emily Berk
Emily Berk graduated in 2007 from Central Bucks West High School in Doylestown, PA. A
Connecticut native, Emily moved to Pennsylvania 4 years ago and has since found a new
While at CB West, Emily participated in a variety of clubs and activities while
challenging herself with the most rigorous courses available. Emily was an active member
of the school newspaper, the Court Street Press where she contributed as a writer,
photographer, and later as the editor of the school and local news section. As the
attorney general of the World Affairs Club, Emily helped to organize the annual Model
During her time at CB West, Emily worked with the Young Democrats? club to get many local
(and national) officials elected. Emily has worked all across central bucks as a
volunteer, campaign manager, and volunteer coordinator among other positions. In her
senior year, Emily joined the Doylestown Democrats and was instrumental in starting up
the Doylestown Democrats First Friday events. On First Fridays it's common to see Emily
dressed as a donkey, dancing around the table.
In her sophomore year, Emily became part of a group run by Planned Parenthood of Bucks
County called Rainbow Room. There she was able to channel her passion for activism and
put it to practical use. Emily helped facilitate meetings, table at pride events, and
write letters to politicians. Though a lot of Rainbow Room involves activism, much of it
just involves making friends and being a positive member of the LGBTQIA community. Emily
believes that one of the best ways to promote tolerance and equality for the LGBTQI
community is to just be out and honest. For this reason, Emily lives out and proud about
being bisexual, and has for nearly her entire life.
Emily enjoys ‘democratting’, working to create positive change, taking pictures, building
things, reading, watching TV and biking with her dad.
2006 RAINBOW AWARD RECIPIENT: Antonio Ferrara
Antonio Ferrara graduated in 2006 from William Allen High School in Allentown PA. Antonio
was one of the original members of William Allen?s new Gay Straight Alliance. Acting as
an activist in his school was one of Antonio's passions. He earned the respect of his
fellow classmates by standing up for who he is. He was also an active member of the
Queer community, assisting in HAVEN Youth Group's annual Prizm Prom.
Antonio was the social coordinator of William Allen's GSA. He was also very dedicated in
his grades. Antonio was constantly studying and striving for perfection in his chosen
field. Antonio is attending Le cordon Bleu of the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute in
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Antonio will receive an Associates Degree in Baking and
Patisserie. His goals are to be the owner of a bakery and a nightclub, both of which
will feature his artistic creation. He will especially focus on gay friendly ceremonies.
2006 QUEER STUDENT OF THE YEAR RECIPIENT: James Weissbein
James Weissbein graduated in 2006 from Freedom High School in Bethlehem, PA where he
started the first Gay Straight Alliance and Rainbow Queer Youth Support Group, and served
as president of the FHS Amnesty International chapter for four years. In addition to an
active school life, James was heavily involved in the GLBTQIA community.
He was a member of the HAVEN Youth Group where he participated in youth marches, queer
conferences and panel discussions. He also served as the Lehigh Valley representative at
the GLSEN National Conference in Boston MA. He was a founding committee member of the
Prizm Prom and volunteered for Pride of the Greater Lehigh Valley. This year Pride
featured a genderqueer booth which he created and hosted.
The Lehigh Valley Queer Film Festival and Pride in the Park were two ongoing events he
helped staff. He is the first trans student to win the Rainbow Scholarship. James has a
keen interest in photography and has exhibited work at Pride in the Park and the The
Allentown Women's Center where his work is on permanent display.
In Fall 2006 James will attend SUNY Purchase in Purchase, NY where he plans to major in
sociology and minor in gay and lesbian studies. His future goals include moving to
Portland, OR and working with disadvantaged queer youth. He'd like to thank everyone in
the GLBTQIA community for accepting him both times he came out. He'd also like to thank HAVEN for providing a safe space for him in high school.
2006 ESSAY CONTEST RECIPIENTL: James Weissbein
James Weissbein (also winner of the Queer Student of the Year)
2005 QUEER STUDENT OF THE YEAR RECIPIENT: Josline Irizarry
Josline Irizarry was an honors student at William Allen High School in Allentown, PA.
She was a member of SADD for two years and planned a week-long, anti-drunk driving
program. She was also part of the Prizm Prom planning and decorating committees and a
founding member of the Gay/Straight Alliance at Allen high school. An artist and
creative writer, Josline worked throughout high school and was part of the William Allen
Arts Academy. Her plans include study at Lehigh Carbon Community College.