Trans UT Student Receives Caitlyn Jenner Foundation Scholarship
Sophomore had lost ROTC scholarship under trans military ban
By Beth Sullivan,
5:15PM, Wed. Jul. 3, 2019
UT-Austin student Map Pesqueira has been awarded a $25,000 scholarship from the Caitlyn Jenner Foundation.
Pesqueira, a dual radio-television-film and American studies major and a transgender man, lost his three-year Reserve Officers’ Training Corps scholarship in April after the Trump administration banned most openly transgender service members. With the ROTC scholarship set to kick in his sophomore year, Pesqueira – a freshman at the time – stayed enrolled at UT but feared he might have to withdraw.
However, in the wake of the media coverage that followed, Pesqueira told the Chronicle that TV personality and former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner reached out to him over Instagram, asking for his number. The executive director of Jenner’s foundation – which provides grants that help empower and improve the lives of transgender people – then called with surprising news. “She notified me that they wanted to give me a scholarship and to help me stay in school.” Last Thursday, June 27, Pesqueira appeared on Good Morning America, where Jenner presented him with a $25,000 check, courtesy of her foundation. On air, Pesqueira said, “I remember the Vanity Fair cover that was just so eye opening for me,” referring to Jenner’s first public appearance as Caitlyn in 2015. “Especially as a trans person, it was just so inspiring.” Pesqueria told the Chronicle that the scholarship, coupled with the funds raised from his GoFundMe page, will allow him to stay in Austin and complete his undergraduate degree at UT.
Pesqueria has since withdrawn from the school’s Army ROTC program, adding he could have stayed regardless of the scholarship for one more year, but ultimately chose to leave as he wouldn’t be able to serve under the new policy. Still, if the ban is reversed, Pesqueira is adamant he would “absolutely” enlist in the Army. “I tell myself, if the ban is ever lifted, I will drop whatever I’m doing to go and serve my country because that’s what I’ve wanted to do since I was a little kid,” he said. “I think of this whole experience as the military is the right choice, it’s just not the right time.”