Education

Hancock High senior, activist, drag queen passes up Tulane - for Harvard

HANCOCK COUNTY -- Trevor Ladner's drag persona, Miss Annie Thang, helped him prove a point and earn a coveted academic scholarship to Tulane University in New Orleans. But he instead opted for a scholarship offered him by Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.

Of the 37,307 students who applied to the Ivy League school to represent the class of 2019, Harvard accepted 2,080, according to the university's website.

Ladner, a top-performing senior at Hancock High School, toured the campus in April and accepted the scholarship offer while he was there. Trevor's mother, Mary Ladner, bought a "Harvard Mom" T-shirt and posted it to Facebook after her eldest son finalized his decision. He'll graduate in 2020.

Ladner said the scholarship he received covers almost the entire cost of tuition at Harvard, making it more affordable than Tulane would have been, he said.

Ladner said Harvard officials watched his video titled "Unpack" -- filmed and edited by Mattlan Ladner -- which had been his entry to the Tulane Deans' Honor Scholarship application. He had been one of 75 students awarded the scholarship.

In the video, Ladner transforms himself into Miss Annie Thang to show people shouldn't be confined within the walls society has deemed acceptable. Boxes are meant for unpacking, and his video Ladner spills out the contents of many boxes. Starting with little more than a 5 o'clock shadow, he shaves his face clean, unpacks his makeup kit and gets to work.

The script he wrote talks about how "gender roles and society puts people into boxes on how the should act according to the sex they're assigned at birth."

In total, Ladner received $608,182 in scholarship money, the most in his graduating class. He will accept his high school diploma Thursday at Brett Favre Stadium at Hancock High School in Kiln.

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