Advice to New Students from a Recent Graduate

As a new student, I thought you would enjoy some advice from a former student and leader from within the USC LGBT Community. Joshua Morris was the first person that came to mind due to his dedication and leadership to the community throughout his time at USC. Read some of his suggestions below. – Vincent E. Vigil, Director for the USC LGBT Resource Center

How can a new student start their involvement in the LGBT Community? What organizations or leadership positions would you suggest?

Students at USC are lucky to have a great number of opportunities to get involved in the LGBT Community. The Queer and Ally Student Assembly is USC’s award winning and nationally recognized LGBT organization. A great way to get started is attending the general meetings which are held every other week. I personally first became involved through the confidential LGBT discussion group, uRap. As a freshman and spring admit, I believe the strong emphasis on support and friendship in the group really helped me to feel confident in my sexuality and in my potential for leadership.

A fantastic organization to get try out is the Freshman Advocacy Board (FAB). FAB is a fabulous group because it gives first year students a chance to put on events for not only their group but for the larger USC LGBT population as well. It’s also the best bet for learning what skills and knowledge are needed for leadership in organizations along the way. If you are interested in putting on event, contributing to the community or just having a fun time, I would encourage you to run for positions on the FAB Executive Board such as Publicity Manager, Vice President or President. Other ways to get involved are through organizations such as Rainbow Scholars (my personal favorite), Jewish Alliance for GLBTs and Straights, Trojans for Equality, Genesis 9:13, and OutReach: Out to Serve. You can also check out the programs sponsored by the LGBT Resource Center like the Speaker’s Bureau, LGBT Peer Mentoring Program or live on the Rainbow Floor.  For more information about involvement opportunities, you can contact USC’s LGBT Resource Center or look at their website: http://sait.usc.edu/LGBT/.

Freshman Advocacy Board Logo

How did you get involved with the LGBT Community?

I was in the closet at the beginning of my USC career. I longed to interact with other LGBT students but I had no idea where to find them. Luckily, I encountered a uRap flyer on my Residential Advisor’s door. Of course, I walked by the flyer at least three times in order to memorize all the necessary details such as time and location, so that I could copy it down later in my dorm room. After attending the uRap discussion, I was amazed at how inviting and though provoking the experience was. I became hooked and later, branched out into other parts of the LGBT community.

Josh and friends at the LGBT & Ally Welcome Back BBQ

My sophomore year, I became a student worker at the LGBT Resource Center andwas appointed Creative Research Specialist of QuASA. Eventually, I held numerous leadership positions including being a founding member of Genesis 9:13, Rainbow Scholars President, OutReach Training Coordinator, and Assistant Executive Director of the Queer and Ally Student Assembly. My involvement with the USC LGBT community showed me just how easy it is to step up to the plate and contribute to a cause that is important to you as long as you have the desire and dedication.   

Any final thoughts on how a new student can get involved?

If you want to get involved, my advice is to step out of your comfort zone. The first attempt is always the hardest, so attending LGBT related events, programs, and meetings is a great way to break the ice. Also, talk to people! I met some of my best friends at QuASA related groups and events. You’ll also meet leaders and members that will be more than willing to give you advice on how to become a participating member of the community or even just how to meet other people with similar ideas and interests.

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