(Posted November 5, 2013)

Zach Strouse, Class of '14, leader in LGBTQIA initiatives on campus Photography by Kelly Russo, '14

Zach Strouse, Class of '14, leader in LGBTQIA initiatives on campus Photography by Kelly Russo, '14

In September, Senior Zach Strouse attended a Career Conference in Chicago hosted by OUT for Work, an organization dedicated to educating, empowering, and assisting LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex, asexual) students in their successful transition from academia into the workplace. Every year, OUT for Work engages in many LGBTQ events and provides programs and resources to aid students in in their job searching techniques. OUT for Work also frequently speaks to LGBT groups on college campuses. Zach shared his experience at the conference and his ideas for what the Juniata community can do to support LGBTQIA students and faculty on campus.

Q: What was your experience at this conference?

A: Through a collaboration with Career Services, and a generous grant from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, I was able to travel to Chicago for OUT for Work's LGBTQIA Career Conference. While there, I was able not only to engage with employers ranging from Lockheed Martin to Google, but I also attended a series of workshops and seminars on how to promote inclusivity and acceptance on college campuses through improving the resources offered to students of marginalized sexuality and gender identities. It was also a great opportunity for Juniata's Career Service Office, which is already an Out for Work certified Silver Office, to increase its certification from Silver to Gold.

Q: Why did you go and what did you take away from the experience?

A: The conference also inspired me to begin an LGBTQIA initiative for Juniata, supported by the Career Services Office, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Health & Wellness and the Dean of Students Office. My experience at Juniata is that while we are good at talking about diversity and acceptance, there remain large steps to be made toward a change in the campus climate where LGBTQIA students can feel both accepted and nurtured in their development.

Q: How do you plan to implement what you learned at the conference in the Juniata community?

A: Our first step has been to get T-shirts in the Juniata bookstore that will show Juniata's pride for our LGBTQIA diversity. They can stand as a representation for the college's eagerness to practice what we preach. I'm also hoping to see a website constructed within the academic year that will advertise what Juniata can provide its LGBTQIA, identifying students both during their four years here, and their post-graduate careers. Both are small but important steps that, in my opinion, will start Juniata on a road to genuine inclusiveness in a climate where students of marginalized sexual and gender identities can thrive.

Hannah Jeffery '16, Juniata Online Journalist

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Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.