Meet Kyra Boyle, a 2024 recipient of the Safe Schools Desert Cities Burton/May Pride Award. The award recognizes outstanding lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning or intersex (LGBTQI) youth who, through their participation, dedication and initiative, have helped foster a positive self-image among other LGBTQI youth.

Kyra Boyle is determined not to let anyone struggle alone. This passion, along with a personal motto, “Happiness is wherever you go. Life is what you make it,” became especially relevant as Kyra entered college in 2020 during the height of the pandemic. All but one class was completed online for her associate degree at College of the Desert. Kyra is on track to graduate with a degree in social work from CSUSB/Palm Desert Campus in May 2025 and will move immediately into the one-year advanced standing program to complete a master’s degree.

Why social work? Having personally experienced both physical and mental trauma, Kyra’s initial plan was to major in kinesiology to help victims in need of physical therapy. Not long into the program, though, she says, “I felt a stronger pull to be that person who helps someone dealing with mental trauma.

Kyra has attended many events in support of the LGBTQI community, and says, “I was passionate about using my voice to spread change. But my classes in social work have enabled me to look at my own biases and become more self-reflective. Now I’m learning the importance of letting others’ voices be heard, embracing their perceptions and working toward mutual understanding.”

After college, Kyra would like to work in a nonprofit setting with youth ages 15-20, integrating art into therapy. Painting has been a personally enjoyable and meaningful outlet for her, as shown in these vibrant and expressive examples,  as well as in the art that adorns her body. Kyra is tatted from head to toe with art that is a reflection of her paintings. One tattoo she feels has guided her through her journey is the blackout tattoo on her leg. Kyra believes art can have many meanings, but to her, it’s a symbol of the strength she instills within herself.

Kyra’s mom, an oncology nurse, has been a profound source of guidance and support. “She never let anything get in her way,” Kyra says. “I learned so much from her, listening to her stories about her patients on our drives home from work. They are lucky to have her, and I am lucky to love her.”

The Burton/May Pride Award and SSDC financial assistance awards, among others received, eased the financial burden of college. Kyra began working at the age of 16 and was able to save up a solid cushion, relying on that money and the benefit of scholarships to stay out of debt during these first years of college. “I’ve just taken out my first student loan,” Kyra says. “There are a lot of scholarships out there, and if a student is stressed about finances the way I was, I’d recommend reaching out to the college financial aid centers for guidance. They – and Google searches – were really helpful for me.”

IECF congratulates Kyra and all the 2024 recipients of the Safe Schools Desert Cities Burton/May Pride Award!

Looking for scholarships? Be sure to visit our scholarship page and search through the Common Application Portal. This system effectively matches applicants with relevant scholarships across a variety of categories, based on the student’s unique qualifications.

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