Pride and College Access
Mallory Raven (She/Her/Hers): Mallory is a college adviser with AdviseMI. She is currently serving at her alma mater, Morley Stanwood High School.
Brittany Hall (She/Her/Hers): Brittany is a third year college adviser with AdviseMI serving at Clintondale High School. Previously, she was an intern at Oakland University’s Gender and Sexuality Center.
Katelyn Grandy (They/Them/Theirs): Katelyn is a college completion coach serving at Macomb Community College. They are also completing a graduate degree at University of Wisconsin-Madison.
As Pride month draws to a close, Kate Grove, MCAN strategic engagement intern, talked with some of our AdviseMI college advisers and one of our College Completion Corps coaches about what Pride Month means to them and how LGBTQ+ issues intersect with college access.
What makes Pride Month important to you?
Brittany: To me, Pride Month is a time to reflect on how far we have come as a community, the sacrifices that were made to get here, and how resilient we are. As a bisexual woman who hid her true identity for so long, I use this time to educate folks, to share my story, to listen to others' stories, and to really bask in the beauty of this strong and unique community.
Katelyn: Pride Month is important to me, because this is when queer folx are given space to be exceptionally loud about their identities and stories. I never would have figured out my identity without the courage of others who spoke out about their experiences. I am grateful that I get to be loud about my identity this month — and every other month — and I hope my story helps others in piecing together their identity.
Mallory: As a bi person, I often worry that the people around me won't accept me because they see me as wrong, confused, attention-seeking, or just not "queer enough." Pride is a time that helps me remember that I am and always will be valid just as I am. And beyond self-acceptance, Pride is a time for me to focus on connecting with the community; lifting up and supporting other LGBTQ+ people, especially queer and trans people of color; learning about and reflecting on LGBTQ+ history; and advocating for increased rights and protections for LGBTQ+ people everywhere.
What does Pride Month mean to you in your role as an adviser or coach?
Katelyn: I think Pride Month is an opportunity to celebrate just one of the many bright facets that make up the student body. It's a way to show students that we see them as whole people, and we are invested in supporting both their personal and academic journeys.
Mallory: It means a lot to me to be able to help students from my hometown identify and pursue their postsecondary goals. It means even more for me to be able to do that as the person my high school self would have loved to have had helping her through the college process.
Brittany: As an adviser, I see Pride Month as yet another opportunity to show my love and support outwardly for the LGBTQ+ community in an educational space. It gives me a chance to potentially impact my students, whether that means answering questions and educating them or providing resources to help them both navigate and validate their own identities/sexualities.
In what ways have you supported LGBTQ+ students in your college access work?
Katelyn: Supporting students in a distance environment is a challenge in more ways than one, but I try to support my students by being open about my identity. All of my students are going through their first semester in college, and for LGBTQIAP+ students this time can be exceptionally stressful, because they've yet to experience the full campus climate.
Brittany: During my time as a college adviser, I’ve questioned name change policies in school districts and advocated for teachers to use correct pronouns for trans and non-binary students. I’ve also been involved with LGBTQ+ student organizations at my respective service sites, and I have been able to give relevant resources to students who need additional support or services beyond the scope of what I am able to offer. I always do my best provide a safe space for all of my students.
Mallory: Expressing myself freely not only helps me feel more comfortable and confident as I do this work, but it also helps me connect more authentically with students. While assisting students with college applications, I've found great opportunities to help educate them about different definitions, labels, and the importance of personal pronouns. I am also so excited to be helping with my school's brand-new Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) club.
How does celebrating Pride Month tie into improving college access and fighting for education equity?
Brittany: Overall, it is so important in education equity work to remember that all of our students have intersecting identities, and they bring unique experiences and challenges to the table. It is our job to offer them the support and resources that they want, need, and deserve.
Mallory: Pride Month isn't just a celebration, but also a time for us to think about how we can best support LGBTQ+ students all year. We can't help students that don't feel safe or comfortable enough to come to us for help. We need to be proactive about making education spaces safe and welcoming places for LGBTQ+ students.
Katelyn: While Pride Month is a time to celebrate how far we've come in the fight for equality, it's also a time to draw attention to all the ways we still have to fight. In the world of higher education, queer issues are found from campus climates to state and national legislation. By celebrating Pride Month, we get to invite non-LGBTQIAP+ individuals to learn about our community, the issues we face, and the ways that they can support us.