Paving the Road for Future Generations

By Russell Cornelius

I am going to start by saying hello to everyone! To say a few words about myself is going to be difficult, but I think I can manage. I have just finished with my first year of my student affairs program at the University of Central Missouri. My area of interest is in LGBTQ issues and I am the LGBTQ Graduate Assistant on my campus as well as a member of the Campus Pride Advisory Board. Alright now to the fun stuff.

Wow! There is a part of me that almost can’t believe that I am done. Having just finished the first year of my program feels so surreal. It was definitely challenging, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. In January I started my role as the LGBTQ Graduate Assistant. I am the first person to fill this role at my university, so you can imagine how exciting… and scared I was to start. On one hand I get to pave the way for how this position will be laid out for future graduate students, and on the other, what if I get it wrong and leave a legacy of mess-ups?

Lucky for me I had already made plans to attend the National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change in Houston. With over 390 workshops, training sessions, and networking events I was ready to collect as many business cards as possible, because I knew I was going to have questions and concerns that would spring up faster than I could get them answered. So I focused the workshops I attended on the area I knew I needed the most development on: transgender issues. One of the most valuable sessions I attended was a three hour workshop on being a better Tran* ally put on by Evangeline Wiess and Jack Harrison-Quintana from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. This workshop really pushed me outside my comfort zone in ways I would have never imagined, and for that I am truly thankful. Without Evangeline’s encouraging and reassuring words I don’t think I would have had to courage to jump in head first to this position.

While at this conference I had an amazing opportunity to reconnect with a wonderful resource I met the year prior while attending as an undergraduate student. Christopher Rudisill, the Director of LGBT Community Center Services for Metro Wellness and Community Centers based in St. Petersburg, Florida. I never knew the importance of making strong connections until this semester. I have been working on developing an LGBTQ Peer Mentor program and Christopher was able to answer many questions that I had no idea even where to begin finding the answers to. I know it may seem scary, and it’s going to be a little weird at first, but making network connections early will really pay off. You never know when you are going to be asked to work on a project that scares you to death, but because you made the effort, you know someone who does that for a living.

Student Affairs - the First Years

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1 comment :

  1. Congratulation on having such an successful first year! I actually just finished my first year as well. One of area of interest is LGBTQ issues as well, and I admire your ability to do explore this areas through your position and conference. Keep up the good work!


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