Nineteen years ago, this October, the world was stunned by the brutal murder of a 21-year-old college student named Matthew Shepard, in Laramie, Wyo. His death brought national attention to the issues of anti-gay rhetoric and hate crimes.

In his memory, the Eychaner Foundation sponsors Iowa’s Matthew Shepard Scholarship Program. The scholarship is granted to distinguished Iowa high school seniors who are openly LGBTQ. Selection is based on academic aptitude and achievement, financial need, and community service.

The following area students received the scholarship:

Connor Johnson from Waukee High School and Spencer Navara from Dallas Center-Grimes High School.

Including bonuses, the scholarship is worth up to $13,000 with outstanding academic performance.

Since inception in 2000, the program has awarded $2,750,000 in scholarships. The new scholars were honored June 2, 2017 at the Matthew Shepard Scholarship Awards Dinner and at their local high school awards programs. The Dinner also recognized Judge Robert B. Hanson for his 2007 ruling sustained unanimously by the Iowa Supreme Court in Varnum v. Brien, establishing marriage equality in Iowa.