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Sean Hyatt '23 Awarded Danté Austin Scholarship for LGBTQ+ Advocacy

by sarah hojsak

Sean Hyatt, BS Psychology '23

April 11, 2024

Recent College of Arts and Sciences alum Sean Hyatt, BS psychology '23, received a scholarship honoring the legacy of a late Philadelphia veteran and activist for the LGBTQ+ community.  

The Danté M. Austin Memorial Scholarship is awarded to one local student annually by the Gay Officers Action League (GOAL) of Greater Philadelphia.  

GOAL’s mission is to advocate for and on behalf of LGBTQ+ first responders and military members, help educate first responders in LGBTQ+ competency and provide community outreach to advance relations between the LGBTQ+ public and first responder agencies. 

The scholarship’s namesake, Danté Austin, was a Philadelphia sheriff's deputy, military veteran, LGBTQ+ activist and a founding member of GOAL who passed away in 2019.  

Teaching Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences Ludo Scheffer, PhD, recommended Hyatt apply for the scholarship, which is open to students enrolled in programs related to emergency services, public safety, mental health, psychology or social work who are interested in advancing emergency services, public safety and mental health services for the LGBTQ+ community in the Philadelphia area. 

"Since I was scheduled to go into a master's program in the fall, and I am an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, I thought it would be a great opportunity and I would be a great candidate to continue [Austin’s] legacy,” Hyatt explained. 

Hyatt was presented the award at GOAL’s annual drag brunch fundraiser in November, during which the organization raised over $16,000 to further its mission. Hyatt was also able to meet Austin’s family and make connections with GOAL’s members and leadership. 

"It really meant a lot to receive this award because I hold my identity very close to me, especially in the profession that I'm going into within therapy and counseling,” Hyatt said. “I'm a very big advocate for not only LGBTQ+ issues, but inclusiveness in general.”  

Hyatt is currently continuing his education at Drexel in the College of Nursing and Health Professions’ Master of Family Therapy program. As an undergrad, Hyatt was president of Drexel’s chapter of NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, which allowed him to promote mental health advocacy on campus while also learning the skills necessary to manage an organization. That experience, along with an influential co-op, made him decide to pursue a career in the family services field.  

"What inspired me to continue my education at Drexel for my master's degree was my co-op at the Ronald McDonald House,” Hyatt explained. “I did my third co-op there and then I worked there for several more months after the co-op ended. It gave me a lot of experience giving back, especially working with families dealing with medical trauma.” 

Now halfway through his first year of grad school, Hyatt is adjusting to the transition of taking more specialized classes while also completing an internship in telehealth therapy that allows him to work directly with clients. He also just accepted a practicum at the Center for Families and Relationships, a nonprofit community mental health agency in Philadelphia, where he’ll work during his second year.   

"The main difference between undergrad and grad is that the classes I'm taking are much more specialized to what I want to do,” he said. “I've been really liking it so far. The classes are really interesting, and I've been enjoying working with the smaller cohort of students as well.”