CORVALLIS - Two Oregon State University students from Portland have each received $5,000 and earned recognition as a 2004 winner of OSU's College of Liberal Arts Leadership in Social Change Award.

Clinton Downs and Kiera Bethwiller will each use their funds to support a summer internship with progressive social change organizations.

Four awards were given this year, with the recognition made possible through a $20,000 annual gift from OSU alumnus James Wiggett of San Francisco. This is the third year of awards.

Downs, a junior in sociology with a minor in Japanese, will intern this summer with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in New York and Ohio.

His efforts focus on defeating anti-gay ballot measures through voter education and community building. This summer almost every state will be working on some form of legislation involving civil rights and the gay community. Downs plans to expand his skill base by making change happen at a grassroots level, as well as furthering his understanding of this country, civil rights, and the public sector's role in social justice.

Downs has worked an external coordinator for OSU's Queer Resource Center for 18 months and serves as a project coordinator with Associated Students of OSU. In the fall he plans to attend Waseda University in Japan, and graduate in June 2005.

Bethwiller is finishing up her third year at OSU where she is pursuing a degree in sociology and a minor in Spanish.

She was abroad in Spain participating in a language intensive course for 10 weeks and she attended a Spanish immersion elementary school in Portland where she started learning Spanish at the age of 5. Bethwiller was raised by two mothers and was introduced at an early age to social change when she helped out on several political campaigns in Portland.

To add to her knowledge of social change and her interest in fundraising, she served an internship last summer with Western Prison Project, a local social change non-profit group in Portland. For her internship this summer, Bethwiller will work with Portland's Community Alliance of Tenants where she'll participate in the Safe Housing Program to help low-income tenants.

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Jeffrey Hale, 541-737-4587