Franchesca Lynn Nicols, Stillwater High School

Franchesca has been admitted to the College of St. Rose for the Fall of 2012 and plans on pursuing their 3+3 Pre-Law Program, in conjunction with Albany Law School. She is the co-founder of the Stillwater Gay-Straight Alliance, as well as a Volleyball Captain and a Tae Kwon Do Black Belt. She has received numerous academic and community awards during her high school career, including a 2011 Capital District YMCA Outstanding Student Award. Though she has been a victim of bullying at her school due to her position as the President of the Gay-Straight Alliance, each of her recommendation letters cite how she has persevered both socially and academically to achieve her goals of creating a safer school.

Maxine Paula Kannemeyer, Emma Willard

Maxine has been accepted to both Dickinson and Hobart and William Smith colleges, but indicated that her first choice is Skidmore College, where she is waitlisted. She plans on pursing a degree in psychology with the ultimate goal of becoming a children’s clinical psychologist. She has been actively involved in both school activities and community organizations, receiving two varsity letters (lacrosse and field hockey) and leading the school choir. In addition to being a leader in the Gay-Straight Alliance, she also is a member of the Black and Hispanic Awareness Club at Emma Willard, which works in the community doing educational events. She is a native of Cape Town, South Africa and lives most of her life between Williamstown, MA, and Cape Town. She has been involved in different NGO’s and traveled to many third world countries, where she has volunteered her time and energy since a young age.

LyRissa Mento,Ft. Plain Jr./Sr. High School

LyRissa plans on attending Herkimer County Community College to study criminal justice and become a juvenile probation officer. In addition to co-founding her high school’s Gay-Straight Alliance, she has also been involved in many different student clubs focused on raising awareness about differences and acceptance. She is committed to helping other LGBT students, which is why she began the GSA in her small, rural school district. As a scholar, LyRissa has diligently pursued the highest standards of academic achievement, with her overall average a 90, and excelling in science and mathematics courses. Her personal mission is to eliminate the use of “that’s so gay” from her school, and her teachers and administrators believe that she is exactly the right student to achieve this goal.

Andrew Pioggia, Albany High School

Andrew will be attending Maria College in the fall to study nursing, with the eventual goal of attending medical school. Andrew submitted twice the number of required recommendation letters with his application, from a variety of teachers and administrators, who all noted Andrew’s critical thinking skills as well as commitment to the community. They all applaud his ability to balance his outside involvement with a rigorous course load, and his excellent work ethic and they believe he will “achieve anything he sets out to do.” One teacher remarked, “the ability to share respect with others is a gift that I rarely see in a high school student of his age.” In his senior year, Andrew enrolled in a competitive senior internship program where he was able to rotate through different departments at Albany Medical Center and enroll in college level coursework at the University at Albany.