2022 Diversity Scholarship Essays

Taylor Egardo

I had the most divine time at this Astrology Conference. I was able to meet new people, learn new things, and feel renewed myself! I still have my NORWAC glow almost a month later. Having the privilege to attend this conference opened my mind up to several things. The most valuable thing that I got from this conference was a sense of belonging. I knew not a single soul at the conference when I came and yet I felt as if I was surrounded by kin spirits. The simple fact that I was rubbing elbows with a variety of people who all have a passion for astrology helped me feel witnessed and a part of a bigger picture. I’ve never been filled with as much pride and joy as I did in my commitment to astrology and its teachings.

I also was able to expand my mind and the way I approach interpreting the stars after attending workshops. Not only did I learn new techniques but I gained a deeper understanding of the foundation and history of astrology. Sometimes you can over-complicate things when you attempt to wrap your mind around astrology. I have been knee-deep into Austin’s Planetary Decade technique. I learned very simple approaches to understanding the 7th house with Demetra George that I am still bragging about. On day One during lunch, I got to sit next to Demetra and that was a special moment that I will carry with me. I connected with a handful of new friends on social media. Now we are online besties that send cute comments of affirmation when we share our words with our online community. I was also able to meet and re-thank two Astrologers in person for the readings I have had with them in the past. My cup over runneth with complete joy from this experience I can’t even say that enough. It was a holistic experience, a one-stop shop for astrologers. I want to take this time to just say thank you for everything this organization stands for and for everything you do in our community. They say your first NORWAC is unforgettable and it truly was!

Michael Kiyoshi

After years of isolation and distance from the astrological community, it was a wonderful gift to be given a scholarship for attending the 2022 NORWAC conference. There is no replacement for sharing a physical space with fellow practitioners of our ancient and magical art, rediscovering the emotive depth and powers of intuition shared by our community.

Though I had attended NORWAC in 2019, I am currently a student training to be a therapist and would not have afforded the travel and lodging to attend the conference without the help of this generously offered scholarship. In the period between these events, there has been a marked evolution in the astrological community that was wonderful to see. When I first joined, I was one of a few younger astrologers, and one of few who were not white and heteronormative. Though I had felt welcomed, habituated as I am to being within the minority, it was greatly refreshing to see so many younger and diverse faces and bodies at this NORWAC, not only in attendance but as speakers and presenters at the event as well. I cannot recall so many experiential events as there were this conference, going beyond the standard speaker and audience format.

The social opportunities of this conference was a particularly great gift, being able to connect to astrologers I admire and have learned from over the years. This year, there was the added benefit of meeting so many young folks who were first time-attendees, and joining them in their first in-person discussions that normalized the often-esoteric and jargon-laden verbiage of our shared practice. The intergenerational exchange of the conference was powerful and moving, seeing how the metaphysical universality of our practice is reflected in the physical diversity and complexity of beings who resonate with and will propagate it into the future. I am proud to be part of this community and to have had the opportunity to witness its growth this year and into years to come.


Cara Villarreal

People with strong networks have access to resources, knowledge, and supportive connections to further expand and achieve their goals. Taking up space to share ancestral wisdoms, cultural practices, and expressing your truth is a human right that is being taken away in the US today. This right is one that disproportionately impacts Black, Indigenous, and brown people, their families, and communities. As a Queer LATINX Astrologer with a focus on belonging, generational healing and creating scared spaces for cosmic awareness, not only for those within a certain class experience but for all. My energy and resources are dedicated to organizing offerings and supporting community groups like Prose Before Bros and a women of color book club that just this year founded the first Black book festival on the west coast, The Freedom Festival! There is magic in connecting resources, celebrating, and sharing stories being poured into the community. NORWAC gave me the opportunity to be poured into absorbing light, knowledge, and supportive experiences that built confidence, empowering me to continue the work. I felt the avid kindness, overflow of resources and abundance of the ability to choose a lecture from so many brilliant teachers who have impacted the astrology community greatly. Grounded in gratitude to embrace the fullness of the conference and the work that has been done by others to allow me to feel safe and supported in this space. The Diversity Scholarship specifically made the conference possible for me to attend and reminded me we are not doing this work alone. A powerful conference like NORWAC can be a rebirth to those who have access to attend, and I hope to stay connected and support the Diversity scholarship recipients to come. Liberation by
learning, sharing light, and celebrating our story is fundamental to revolution. The values-driven influence, magnetism, and flow of meeting with the fellow diversity scholarship recipients has directly led to me launching Cosmic Tía.  Cosmic Tía, is a podcast about cosmic generational healing, belonging, growing and fostering connections to build resources that impact and uplift our community. Bringing people
together on this Earth to celebrate your innate cosmic energy, like NORWAC, is transformative.

nox amore

If I could choose one word to describe my experience at NORWAC, it would be “transformative”. Never in my life have I been in a room full of people who didn’t roll their eyes or feign interest when I talked about transits and astrological remediation. And NEVER in my life would I have thought I’d be in the presence of other queer Black astrologers! Honestly just seeing people like me amongst a hotel full of wise people, mages, and theurgist made me feel very welcomed and relaxed.
Something I didn’t expect to gain from going to NORWAC was how much I was able to lean more into my androgyny and how much my gender journey ties into my understanding of astrology. I got insight from my mentor and the queer astrologers I’ve met about how astrology
can tie into queerness vs assimilation, especially when it comes to understanding out of sect, detriment, and fallen planets. After going through some personal revelations about how I relate to the out of sect domicile Venus in my chart it helped me navigate the conference in a more authentic way! Basically I got both a life changing revelation about my gender expression and queering my understanding of undignified planets. I have a side business of wire wrapping jewelry and my signature products are my crystal crowns. The conversations I’ve had at NORWAC about planetary remediation inspired me to give my creations a more healing angle. Though I haven’t gone public about my idea, I’m happy to have been inspired to start drafting a new commission service for these crystal crowns! I’m very happy to have received this scholarship, without it I wouldn’t have had such a significant experience. It’s changed my perspective on what being an astrologer means to me and how I can incorporate it into my crafting business. So even if I don’t get a lot of books for readings or commission requests (one day I will!) and that my name isn’t very widely known, I now see from the Black elders in the community the places that this life can take me. I know for certain that I was meant to live a spiritual lifestyle and that astrology was going to be one of the ways I navigate it.

Shontel Gaddis

I am so grateful to be a 2022 diversity scholarship recipient. This experience was something I have wanted for many years! As an astrologer from the Midwest, there aren’t many astrologers to meet with,
so I looked for opportunities to join the astrology community. Now that I had a chance to attend NORWAC, I can confidently say that I want to make astrology a part of my career.

Words cannot describe the inspiration I felt throughout the conference. Before attending, I felt a strong sense of imposter syndrome, like I could never be an astrologer. All I knew for sure was that I loved learning more about myself through astrology. I know without a doubt that I want to continue to grow as an astrologer. While at the conference, I received the validation I needed about making astrology a priority in my life.

As a queer black woman, I was unsure of how many other BIPOC and LGBTQ+ astrologers I would be able to meet at the conference. I have noticed that many of the widely-known names in astrology are cis white people. I was worried that I would stand out a lot (as a Leo rising, standing out was never hard). I was happy to see a large mix of people from all walks of life.

As astrologers, we investigate tough topics with our clients. We should be able to have this same discourse with people in the astrology community. If these discussions happen respectfully, we learn and grow. Some of the presenters lacked opportunities to incorporate intersectionality into their topics. There could have been more representation and space for those discussions. And as scary as it may be, opening up for constructive criticism can be incredibly impactful.

One thing I would love to see going forward is a get-together for diversity scholarship winners. I would love to have opportunities to meet other people that receive the scholarship and connect with them. Along with this, it would be nice to have another chance to reconnect with the scholarship recipients that I met this year!

Overall, I will continue to advocate for astrology throughout my career. My next project is to research astrology throughout music history. I aim to build a bridge between astrology, music education, and music therapy. I will work to develop my spiritual business and find other ways to grow as a professional astrologer. Once again, I am grateful to Sam Reynolds and Laura Nalbandian for this scholarship and the opportunity to attend.