Ariel Owens, 16, Deputy Director of Women and Gender Programmes, knows how important support for the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center (GSRC) can be.
“For many students, the GSRC is one of the first places on campus — and sometimes in their lives — where they feel comfortable being themselves,” she said. “Amazing things happen when students feel confident enough to take their own power!”
The center provides students with a home away from home, inclusive of gender and sexual identities, and is committed to helping students find resources and support to enhance their campus experience and academic success. Celebrating all identities, with social justice and a collaborative mindset, the center honors the experiences of those with historically marginalized identities and multiple/intersecting identities.
Additionally, the GSRC contributes to the NIU’s core value of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and it helps create supportive spaces around campus where students can be themselves.
The center leadership is keen to make more people aware of its important work on campus and the positive difference its presence has on students.
After earning her bachelor’s degree in English, with a certificate in women’s and gender studies, Owens went on to earn her master’s degree in higher education leadership from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater before returning to be part of NIU’s GSRC.
“I returned to NIU for the opportunity to be part of social justice work on a college campus,” Owens said. “I was a very involved student leader during my time at NIU, and I learned as much outside of the classroom as I did in the classroom. I wanted to contribute to the college experiences of other young people in a positive way and join a group of professionals who were dedicated to advocating for students, especially those with marginalized identities.
Owens is very proud of the center’s commitment to partner with fellow cultural resource centers and areas, such as the Center for Black Studies, Latino Resource Center, Asian American Resource Center, and Office of Undocumented Student Support. This helps create spaces and provide inclusive programming for students who have multiple identities.
Elizabeth Quirarte, who graduated with a degree in psychology from the NIU in 2019, is a graduate assistant at the center while pursuing her master’s degree in school counseling.
“I wanted to work at GSRC because the experiential knowledge gained from working with diverse populations, especially LGBTQ+ students, will better prepare me for my future career as a counselor,” Quirarte said. “The best advisors are empathetic, sensitive and understanding. Hearing students’ stories helped me to be more culturally competent.
Quirarte has seen firsthand how students have benefited from GSRC programs.
“I oversee a group of students who are part of the Speakers Bureau, an educational service provided by the GSRC,” Quirarte said. “The Speakers Bureau is made up of volunteers who identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community or straight allies who speak out in classrooms, dorms, and other organizations that invite us to speak. By sharing their personal experiences, others gain a better understanding of LGBTQ+ people and are able to replace stereotypes with real stories.
The students who belong to this group have shared with Quirarte how being open about their identity has helped them to develop their self-confidence and strengthen their speaking skills and allowed them to make new friends.
“I’ve had students say ‘Speakers Bureau is the involvement I’m most proud of’ and ‘I was questioning my sexuality at a time when it was really hard to connect with people. other people. Going to a Speakers Bureau panel helped get me on the right track.’ “, noted Quirarte.
Huskies who support the GSRC during Huskies United can rest assured that their donations will help expand the center’s retention initiatives for women of color and will also support the creation of a summer program to impact student success. LGBTQ+ at NIU.
“I think alumni should donate to the GSRC because their contributions will help us continue to support people with marginalized and intersectional identities,” Quirarte said. “Donations provide students with scholarships and educational opportunities. Funding will help with events, supplies, outreach and programs.
Owens and Quirarte regret never having visited the GSRC during their college years. The funding, they say, will help raise awareness of the center and make it easier for students to find the resources they need.
“In undergrad, I never visited the GSRC, even though it was right across from all my psychology classes. Honestly, I didn’t even know that existed. I truly regret missing out on all the programs, resources and friendships I could have made, if only I had known at the time,” Quirarte said.
For more information on Huskies United, please visit the website: https://dog.niu.edu.
To register to become a Huskies United Ambassador, please visit this website: https://dog.niu.edu/giving-day/56762/signup.
If you have any questions about becoming an Ambassador, please contact Liz McKee, MSEd. ’14, at [email protected]