First recipient of the Justin Flippen Memorial Fund announced

A year ago, FAU alum, LGBTQ activist, and former Wilton Manors mayor died suddenly and a memorial scholarship was created in his name. The first recipient has just been announced.


First recipient of the Justin Flippen Memorial Scholarship, Emily Miranda. Courtesy of Our Fund press release.

Kendall Little, Managing Editor

Editor’s note: A different version of this story is published on the South Florida Gay News website. You can read it here

On Feb. 25, 2020, former Wilton Manors mayor and FAU alum Justin Flippen died of a brain aneurysm. He was only 41 years old at the time of his passing.

When Flippen was elected as FAU’s student body president two decades ago, he became the first openly gay student body president in the state of Florida. 

Flippen being openly gay stirred things up in a time where LGBT people typically hid their sexualities in fear of being ridiculed or harmed.

“It wasn’t necessarily that Justin was gay – it was that he was proud to be gay. I can’t tell you how much that rankled certain FAU students in the years right around 2000,” former FAU University Press adviser Michael Koretzky said. 

After graduating from FAU in 2000, Flippen took part in the University of Florida Law Program where he earned a law degree in 2004.

However, Flippen is most well-known for his time as the mayor of Wilton Manors. 

He was elected in 2018 after serving as City Commissioner for 10 years. 

His life was celebrated by many, including United States secretary of transportation Pete Buttigieg and former mayor of Tallahassee Andrew Gillum. The two politicians tweeted their sentiments after learning of his sudden passing.

Our Fund Foundation quickly created the Justin Flippen Memorial Scholarship Fund to honor Flippen’s legacy.

“Our Fund Foundation is honored to administer the Justin Flippen Memorial Fund which will help prepare future generations of leaders [to] follow in the footsteps of Justin’s thoughtful and passionate public service,” president and CEO of Our Fund Foundation David Jobin said. 

To pay tribute to Flippen, the first recipient of the scholarship was announced on Feb. 22, 2021, to be Emily Miranda.

Miranda is a political science major at Florida Atlantic University who often gives back to her community through service. She is passionate about political activism and social justice as well.

“Ignorance serves as the fuel for gaps in social justice and equity and the battle against it is lifelong,” Emily Miranda said. “It is my honor to receive this scholarship in the name of Justin Flippen as it allows me to take a step further in learning about, confronting, and promoting equality and justice.”

Flippen’s parents believe that Miranda is very deserving of the scholarship.

“The recipient impresses me as she is an honors student in a similar place as Justin was at that time in his life. Justin would feel good about her determination, particularly as a first-generation student,” Flippen’s mother Stephanie Flippen Chandler said. 

The scholarship is not limited to FAU students, but applicants must be seeking to enter public service and majoring in political science or a related field. “Preference will be given to students exhibiting interest in promoting LGBTQ+ equality,” according to Pierson Grant.

Our Fund will continue to raise money for the Justin Flippen Memorial Fund so that it can increase the scholarship amount and expand how many future scholarships can be awarded to deserving students. 

Even after his passing, Flippen continues to be an inspiration to not only LGBT students but any student that shares his passion for activism and serving the community.

“This guy dreams big and practical at the same time. Not a lot of college students can do that. I can’t tell you how crushing it is to see a practical dreamer die so young,” Koretzky said about Flippen right after his death. “Life isn’t fair, but sometimes it’s more unfair than usual, and this is one of those times.” 

Donations to the Justin Flippen Memorial Fund can be made here to ensure that more students can receive the scholarship in the coming years. 

Kendall Little is the Managing Editor for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet her @klittlewrites.