Out Penn freshman earns IBA scholarship

Out Penn freshman earns IBA scholarship

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After winning the 2016 LGBTQ Scholarship this month from the Independence Business Alliance and DVLF, Ben Blanco said it was especially gratifying to earn financial support from organizations that empower students like him. The award is $2,500.


Blanco is an out freshman at the University of Pennsylvania studying finance and statistics. He grew up in Los Angeles County.

“Penn is a really strong and accepting place, especially in Wharton,” he said, highlighting the Wharton Alliance for LGBT and ally professionals in the business school. 

“I think it’s really important for there to be a network,” Blanco said. “I had a lot of really strong opportunities and I’d like to help others reach opportunities too.”

Zach Wilcha, executive director of the Independence Business Alliance, the region’s LGBT chamber of commerce, said Blanco stood out among the applicants because he had a commitment to connecting with other LGBT students and professionals. 

“He wanted to show that queer individuals can take on a wide range of professions,” Wilcha said. “We know he wants to use his business degree to help underserved communities.”

Over the summer at Penn, Blanco will work on education research related to curriculum rigor and school cost. He said he’s particularly interested in urban education.

“I’m trying to get more involved in education policy issues,” Blanco said. “It’s something I’d like to work more on in the future. 

Blanco said his ideal career path would use business skills to help people. 

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