Meet Our Latest OppU Achiever: Kelly Gluckman!

OppU Achievers Scholarship

Name: Kelly Gluckman

College: University of California, Los Angeles

Major: World Arts and Cultures

Graduation Date: 2018

Congratulations to our latest OppU Achiever, Kelly Gluckman! We are so thrilled to award our fall $2,500 scholarship to someone who has accomplished so much—and will go on to accomplish so much more.

The OppU Achievers Scholarship honors those who overcome adversity and create opportunity for themselves and others. And without a doubt, our latest recipient embodies this ethos.

After receiving a devastating diagnosis, Kelly devoted her life to serving others through advocacy and education. She’s appeared on national television, served as an ambassador for an international nonprofit, and acted locally through a theater group that performs in high schools.

Currently a senior at UCLA, Kelly is studying arts activism and working on a thesis to evaluate the impact of sex education. After graduating this summer, she’ll teach an undergraduate class that explores the ways in which stigma can be fought through art. Ultimately her goal is to work in health care, continue to advocate through public speaking, and eventually return to school for a PhD that will inform her life’s work.

Congrats to Kelly, and thanks to all who applied—there were many impressive candidates. You can read Kelly’s winning submission—and learn more about her inspiring story—below.

Kelly’s Story

In October of 2010, I tested HIV-positive while in a committed, and what I thought was a monogamous, relationship. One of my ways of coping with the trauma of diagnosis was sharing my story with the people around me. Through those conversations, I realized there was a dire lack of education around this virus.

Over and over, friends would listen to me and run to get tested. I felt deeply that this was my calling—to become a sexual health educator and HIV advocate. No one should have to go through what I’ve been through, and I know that if I can help one person avoid this, or another feel better about living with this, then I’ve done something worthwhile.

I went public in 2012 and began telling my story as often as possible. My story has been featured on far-reaching platforms like MTV, the CDC, UCLA, Indiana University, Planned Parenthood, and online media publications like Bustle. I partnered with the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation in 2013 as an official ambassador. Through this amazing organization, I visited with members of Congress in Washington D.C. during a national advocacy event called AIDSWatch, joining over six hundred people living with HIV and allies in the field from across the nation to advocate for effective HIV/AIDS policy. Most recently, I was featured on an episode of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” in which I tell my story of being diagnosed at a Planned Parenthood location in Los Angeles to bring awareness to both HIV and the need for the life-saving services that Planned Parenthood provides. I was also honored to be named one of’s one hundred distinguished HIV/AIDS advocates.

Although opportunity to tell my story has been plentiful, I struggled to develop a viable career in the field. I’ve had contracts fall through with two different public speaker’s agencies for a lack of experience, and I’ve been turned away from several jobs in the field of HIV/AIDS community work for a lack of education. So, I decided to go back to school to build my skills as a speaker and increase my capacity to make an impact.

After I graduate, I plan on working in the public health sphere and pursuing a career in public speaking at universities. Looking to the future, my ultimate goal is to build an agency and train others to speak. Eventually, I will come back to academia, earn a PhD, and use my research to advocate for better policy on sexual health education for our youth. I want the next generation in our country to be well-informed and empowered to make healthy decisions in their lives.

Could you or someone you know use $2,500 for tuition? The OppU Achievers Scholarship is open to high school seniors, college students, graduate students, and students in trade or professional programs. To apply, submit a short essay through our web portal.

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