Looking back on my time at the University of Pennsylvania, the LGBT Center remains one of the strongest pieces of my development and survival. Having staff like Erin, Tiffany, and Malik to guide me through my master’s program, my personal leadership journey, and activism was an irreplaceable gift. Without the Center, FGLIQ would not be thriving this year, nor would I be continuing my studies at the University of Texas at Austin, pursuing my PhD in Higher Education Leadership. As a recent alumn, I am learning how to navigate new communities, while remaining connected to Penn. The homes and family I left are not in my past, they simply guide me on my journey today through all of my future endeavors.
Receiving the James Brister Society Graduate Leadership Award remains one of the best experiences of my life. Reflecting on the other influential campus leaders and scholars who are dedicated to transformative liberation in that room, I finally felt seen. As a masters student, we are in and out of the university so fast, we seldom have opportunities to create meaningful change on campus. Working with other students, faculty, and staff, we actively made that change, despite the many limitations at hand. I am forever grateful I was chosen to be one of many in James Brister’s legacy. I hope to keep honoring and working in his legacy by continuing the work towards liberation for all peoples through my research, activism, and practice.