Allyship and College Success
Kyle Kelly is a College Completion Corps coach at Bay College in the Upper Peninsula. Amy Reddinger is vice president of arts and sciences and diversity, equity, and belonging at Bay College.
When I started as a Bay College student, I was unsure of myself. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to make friends at the college, being a non-traditional student and completely blind. Then something happened that greatly improved my campus experience. I met Amy Reddinger, then dean of students, who oversaw the liberal arts degrees. She invited me to the PRIDE Club, and I was accepted for being me. There was no judgement that I identified as a heterosexual male; the members were just happy that I came and was willing to be an ally. After I started attending meetings, members would greet me in the hallways, making me feel important and like I belonged at the college.
Having this positive relationship has given me a better perspective in my role with College Completion Corps. I strive to create a space where students can be their authentic selves without judgement. Supporting LGBTQIA+ students gives them a sense of belonging and brings diversity to the campus community. The pride flag and magnet hanging on my door let students know that can approach me with difficult questions. It is a true honor being an ally and assisting students by helping them feel safe and acknowledged.
I have been the advisor of the PRIDE Club at Bay College since I began working here in 2018, and before that I was the advisor for an LGBTQIA+ student organization at another 2-year school in a rural community. Providing an organization that is welcoming of all students, and that works particularly support LGBTQIA+ students, is a really important piece of my work to provide a sense of belonging for all students. When a student feels welcomed and supported, they are more likely to stay in college.
Kyle has been an active member and great ally and advocate for the PRIDE Club during his time at Bay College. Now that he is working with College Completion Corps, he continues to attend meetings and also works to create a safe space for students and colleagues in his office on campus. This is some of the intangible work we can do every day to help students succeed.