What is your most enduring memory of your time at Yale?
As a dual degree student, I had rich experiences at both Yale School of Management and the Yale Divinity School. My time at Yale was marked by inclusion and celebration of my queerness, a balm from the outside world. At SOM, I was an active member of Out of Office, and have fond memories of dressing up in ridiculous outfits on stage, having lots of fun theme parties, and hosting dinners for students who identified as bi/pansexual. At YDS, my time was marked by exposure to queer theology – an education where those who were historically marginalized were centered, as evidenced by the fact that all twelve of my professors came from historically marginalized communities. This was a breath of fresh air in an academic institution.
How has your identity shaped your Yale experience?
My queer identity has become somewhat synonymous with my Yale experience. I've lived in places where LGBTQ people faced a lot of discrimination, so I had safety concerns upon entering. Through the encouragement of classmates, and the inclusive practices of professors, I was able to come out of my shell, and more prominently share my queer identity in professional settings. I would not be where I am today – or as out as I am today – without Yale.
What is your hope for the future of the Yale alumni community?
As an inaugural leader of the LGBTQ Alumni Association for SOM, this is a timely question, as we are shaping this very future. My hope is that younger and older alumni can connect and learn from each other. I know for many older alumni, their experience as a queer person was not nearly as positive as mine, and they may not have positive associations of their time at Yale vis a vis their queer identity. I hope that by interfacing with younger alumni can encourage them that the world is changing, that Yale is changing, and perhaps encourage them to use their power and privilege to speak out for LGBTQ rights, especially in a time when those rights are under political attack. For younger alumni, I know we have lots to learn, and can gain tremendous value from mentorship from those who have gone before us.
What advice would you give to fellow or future Yalies?
Don't be afraid to be yourself. Those who are against us want us to dim our lights, but it is only by shining that we can ensure a brighter future for ourselves and others. Now is not the time to retreat. To future Yalies, this place may be more healing and welcoming than you expect, so take advantage of all it has to offer.