The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Charitable Foundation has selected three local high school seniors to receive the 2021 Daniel S. Hall Social Justice Awards. Among the winners is Vanessa Whittle of Royal Palm Beach High School.
The awards are presented annually to college-bound graduating seniors who have demonstrated an interest in advocacy on behalf of the LGBTQ community. Each of the recipients will receive a $2,500 scholarship.
While at RPBHS, Whittle served as vice president of the Speech & Debate Team and co-president of the Thespian Society, both clubs that she is extremely passionate about and used to spread the message of the fight that the LGBTQ+ community faces. Whittle competed in local, state and national tournaments in both organizations that shed light on the issue of violence both against and within the LGBTQ+ community.
Whittle also participated as an ambassador for Palm Beach County in the nonpartisan voting organization My School Votes, in partnership with Michelle Obama’s When We All Vote. She worked to spread the importance of voting within her school, registering her peers to vote during classroom visits.
This summer, Whittle will begin pursuing a degree in political science at the University of Central Florida. She plans to continue spreading her passion for social justice and civic engagement by staying active in speech and debate and My School Votes throughout her college career.
“I will use the money awarded from this scholarship to help ease the financial burden of tuition, competition and travel expenses during college, so that I can continue to explore what I am most passionate about — helping others,” Whittle said.
Other honorees are Sol Lima, a senior at Jupiter High School, who serves as president of the Gender & Sexuality Alliance as well as the Future Farmers of America, and Lake Worth Beach resident Ekko Greenbaum, a graduating dance major at the Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts.
The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council (PBCHRC) is Florida’s oldest, independent, nonpartisan, political organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.
The Social Justice Awards are named after Daniel S. Hall, a local attorney who manages a financial counseling company. Hall, treasurer of the PBCHRC since 1990, is the council’s longest-serving board member.
Created in 2015, the Daniel S. Hall Social Justice Awards are administered by PBCHRC Board Member Jasmin K. Lewis, chair of the scholarship program.
“Despite the logistical disruptions students endured during to 2020-21 school year, Sol Lima, Ekko Greenbaum and Vanessa Whittle have worked as passionate advocates for the local LGBTQ community,” Lewis said. “The foundation is proud to recognize their work by presenting them with the 2021 Daniel S. Hall Social Justice Awards.”