What is your background?
I am originally from a small town in Northeastern Ohio but relocated to Florida when I was in middle school. I went to Stetson University where I obtained my B.A. in religious studies with a minor in education and concentration in music. I then went on to get my master’s in student affairs counseling from Syracuse University.
What inspired you to take this career path?
When I was in college, I began to explore and understand myself as a queer individual; however, I struggled deeply with this identity due to my religious beliefs and being scared to be in a world that was harmful to queer individuals. I grew up with queer friends and was involved as an ally, but the thought of being queer was overwhelming to me.
I didn’t have much support, but I found my “home” within the Cross Cultural Center, or what we called the TRI C — the equivalent to what the Days-Massolo Center is — at my undergrad [institution]. I became VP, and then president, of the queer organization and was also involved in a ton of other Tri C organizations. Through this I found my passion for organizing and supporting not only myself, but peers [by] finding and embracing our identities.
Grad school was never in my plans until a few friends and some administrators took me aside and encouraged me to follow my passions, to give back, and work to create more inclusive and supportive spaces for students like myself. I followed that passion through grad school and then into a career in higher education for the past seven years, doing diversity, equity, and inclusion work [at various campuses].
What are your responsibilities at the DMC?
My role is to provide direct service opportunities for students ... providing non-clinical individual and group support. [I’m here] for students who want to discuss their LGBTQIA+ identity; explore sexuality, romantic attraction, gender identity, or gender expression; or who just want to connect with a queer and trans professional.
I also work closely with campus partners to ensure that students are connected to all of the resources that Hamilton has for them. I run two support groups to provide a space for students to discuss their journey, dig deeper into their narratives, and find commonalities/validation in their experiences with others that they typically might not have had the opportunity to do.
Students thus far have felt appreciative and grateful for these spaces [that allow them to] feel like they are not alone or the only one going through what they are experiencing. I also support the DMC in moving its vision forward, I attend weekly meetings with the DMC student ambassadors, and I inform and advocate around institutional challenges that students may be facing as it intersects with their LGBTQIA+ identity.
What drew you to Hamilton?
[In the fall], I connected with Paola [Lopez, DMC director,] and learned about the opportunity at Hamilton … I am so grateful to be part of this community and team that is extremely dedicated to students. This position at Hamilton is unique in higher education. Many institutions look at diversity, equity, and inclusion work as primarily programming and/or policy and procedure work. However, this role is prioritizing direct service as a means of supporting the positive identity development of students. It places students and their needs first, which is part of my personal and professional philosophy.