Carrying on the Torch

Georg and Angela, who are currently both seniors and active members of the LGBTQ community, recently were selected as Order of the Torch members, which is one of the highest honors the university can bestow upon its students. It is a life-long membership into a premiere group of Trojans who  serve as ambassadors for the university, promoting USC and the Trojan family to current students, prospective Trojans, alumni, the academic community, and the public. Read about what it means to them to be part of this great tradition.

1. What does it mean to you to be an Order of the Torch member?

Georg: Looking back at my freshman year, I did something called the Emerging
Leaders Program, ELP for short, and that’s a program where freshmen get to interact with Order of the Torch members. In ELP, I got to meet the twelve Order of the Torch members. They were really cool, interesting, and passionate people. They were passionate about different things. I feel that as part of Order of the Torch, I want to give that passion to the next generation, whether they’re freshman, sophomores, or juniors. It doesn’t matter what they want to do as long as they care a lot about it. There’s no point in doing something without being fully committed to the cause or without really putting your full self into it. Other than that, the things that I’ve heard about Order of the Torch is that we are present at Homecoming and that we do community service as well. I am looking forward to that aspect as well, to be able to give back to the community. Being at USC has given me so much already in growth and learning, and I want to give back to the community that has done so much for me already.

Angela: Being a member of the Order really symbolizes a slight change in campus climate for me. I’m noticing more and more that the only students who even know about the Order are student within the Greek system. The people who have heard about it and congratulated me are mostly people I don’t really know. Most people in the networks and communities that I’m involved with have never heard of the Order. Given that this is suppose to be one of the highest honors bestowed upon seniors at the university, it doesn’t make sense that large portions of campus have no idea it even exists. I would not have even known to apply if it wasn’t for my good friend in Program Board who told me about it. Hopefully getting more non-traditional students in the Order will help to make it more known and accessible to the populations on campus who are very much eligible for such awards, but just don’t know about it. It is a great honor to be in the Order, but with that comes a responsibility on my part to continue to pursue changes in the university to benefit underrepresented students.

2. What was one time or experience that made you feel proud of being a USC Trojan?

Georg: There were a lot of moments I’ve been proud to be a USC Trojan, but I feel like a lot of the times the Trojan Family is the key center. The first time I was on campus, I was told the Trojan Family is going to get you a job in the future. It’s like the network that we build here. What I was really proud of was an incident that happened a month ago in Birnkrant. I wasn’t on duty (as a Resident Adviser for the building) and I was out with another resident adviser. Suddenly, I received a call from the RA on duty. She called us for back-up because there was an intoxicated student situation within the building. We came back to help her. There were two or three residents who were helping us out as well. In the end, it turned out this student involved in the incident wasn’t really a student at USC. He was a student from another school. It didn’t matter that he was not a USC student; we were going to help him regardless of his school affiliation. The Trojan Family commitment to service spans beyond the Trojan Family. We care about people regardless. I felt really proud to be a Trojan.

Angela: Definitely witnessing a first budge on the part of the administration to offer a gender-neutral housing option on campus. Instead, administration allowed a gender inclusive option on the Rainbow Floor, but there is still a long way to go to make our campus safe and welcoming for all students, but it was definitely something to celebrate after working on proposals for over two years.

Congratulations Georg and Angela for this great accomplishment!

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Gloria Out for OUBC

Gloria is currently a junior majoring in Business Administration. Last month, Gloria had the opportunity to travel to New York for Out for Undergraduate Business Conference (OUBC). This is an annual conference that is open for undergraduate LGBT students in the fall to help them develop strategies for managing and leveraging their identity in the workplace. Read about Gloria’s experience being out for this conference.

How did you hear about this conference and what makes it different from other business conferences?
I heard about this conference from a friend who went his freshman year and he said he had such a good experience. I clicked on the link he provided on his Facebook newsfeed and it looked really intriguing because it is a conference intended solely for participants who identify as LGBT. Allies are actually encouraged not to attend because some of the programming may not be as relevant to them such as struggles that you might face in the workplace or expressing your gender. What struck me as unique about it is the emphasis on community building and the conference addressed issues specific to the LGBT community.

What was your most memorable experience about the conference?
On a minor scale, I thought just meeting everyone at the conference was memorable because I could hear about their background and their experience as LGBT in pursuing high profile careers in business. I think my most memorable experience comes from attending the career fair because each of the recruiters, or the majority of them, identified as LGBT so it was really interesting to have this career fair where almost everyone is LGBT-identified so you don’t have reservations asking about LGBT issues at work. You would already know that the companies there are accepting enough to be willing to spend thousands of dollars to sponsor these conferences. I think just being able to network where everyone was LGBT was very interesting to me because usually it would be something that I would bring up to set myself apart but everyone there was queer and it was really fun. It wasn’t as nerve-wrecking as most career fairs are.

What were you able to take away from this experience that will help you in your future endeavors?
I know that one thing I got out of this was empowerment. I think coming back from the conference, I was really excited to be out, be visible, and inspire others to come out as well and be able to pursue the careers with their LGBT identity fully visible. What was great about the conference was the focus on leadership and even if you aren’t a leader in your LGBT community on campus, you can still incorporate your leadership skills into different activities in an LGBT lens. For example, as an RA, you can do LGBT-specific programming. You may not be part of the LGBT group but you can still help this way. It is inspirational to achieve some of these things because I know it can be done. I met all of these great LGBT people who are in high ranking positions. One of the keynote speakers was a transgender woman and she managed like 80 billion portfolios and grew it to 160 billion. I didn’t even know that a transgender woman managed so much money, managed to be in such a high ranking position and be completely out. It was really amazing and very inspirational. It did come with some setbacks; some clients refused to work with her because of her identity. Still, the message was that you can do this not in spite of being LGBT but because you are LGBT.

Would you recommend this conference to other LGBTQ-identified students and if so, how would they benefit from attending this conference?
I would recommend this to everyone even if they are not interested in business. It can benefit others and improve their sense of community and connectedness to the LGBT community and also improve their professional skills such as networking and case interviewing. It also enhances professional image via workshops and it allows people to explore career options. I think the reason why this conference was beneficial to everyone is that it had something for everyone to learn and everyone left with a stronger sense of community and skills. I personally feel much more connected to my queer family and I think I got a lot done in networking. Most of all, I definitely know that I want to pursue consulting which is nice for me to have the knowledge that I can do it especially because I am LGBT. I can bring in a whole new perspective and employers love diversity.

Gloria is currently involved with ResED (Residential Education) as a Residential Adviser and has been involved with the Queer and Ally Student Assembly.

Kevin Abroad in Jordan

Kevin Steen is currently a senior majoring in Linguistics and Middle East Studies. In the Spring of 2012, he spent a semester abroad in Jordan and was able to study in the University of Jordan. Kevin was also chosen to be the resident advisor for the Rainbow Floor at Century Apartments. Read about his experience at Amman, Jordan and what goals he has this year for the Rainbow Floor and its residents.

What was your most memorable experience abroad in Amman, Jordan?
Probably my most memorable experience was going to Wadi Rum, which is a big, beautiful, expensive desert with mountains. In the village of Wadi Rum lived the Bedouin, who lived there for who knows for how long. There I met a Bedouin guy named Salewa, through a friend, who introduced us and took us through this awesome trail through one of the mountain canyons, and we had to walk a long way around the mountain in sand with our giant backpacks on. There we spent the night in the desert inside our own tent. In order to get home, we had to hitchhike, which I was nervous about but we ended up getting picked up by a tour bus.

Can you describe the challenges that LGBTQ people face in Jordan?
The main challenge for them is that people don’t talk about it! It is really easy for people to pretend that it doesn’t exist in a place where the only attention it gets in the public realm is the occasional report about some gay prostitution ring being busted up. They also report on transgender prostitution rings and whether or not that’s true, I don’t really know but I’m sure that people who identify as queer have to go underground in a lot of ways. There’s no venue to voice concerns and there’s no organization to really turn to for legal protection. I will say that queer individuals generally don’t face any kind of explicit violence. You can be out and proud, walking down the street and people are not going to attack you. People will disapprove of you, you may not have a lot of friends but it will be unlikely that you would face physical harm. Of course, there’s no protection if your landowner wants to kick you out or if your boss wants to fire you – coming out in Jordan means coming out in a predominantly Muslim society without legal protections which could lead to people losing their entire lives. A lot of them do end up on the streets and turning to prostitution.

What LGBT activist did you meet while you were there?
I met Kali (Khalid) who was forcibly outed by the media when he was about 18 and he was the face of gay Jordan for a long time in the most negative way possible so any news report that came out relating to the queer community always had his face on it. He didn’t like it but he was outed after he was found out to be participating in queer spaces. There are queer spaces where people can hang out. Specifically, there is one street in town called Rainbow Street and it is sort of the expat street where a lot of Americans go, there are more American styled bars there. (Note: Drinking is legal in Jordan, although it is also very expensive, highly taxed, and frowned upon because Muslims generally don’t drink.) There are a few bars that are designated as safe spaces, or queer spaces where a lot of the people there are queer but it is just something you don’t talk about. So you can go to those spaces where they would have parties and dance pretty close to someone you really like but you’re not going to be able to make out or hold hands with someone of the same gender. These parties are often broken up by police officers who come in saying that they’ve received a tip that there are drugs being distributed or something like that, which is common. They don’t arrest anyone typically but parties usually get shut down if it gets too rambunctious. Kali may have been outed at one of those parties.

Kali started this new magazine that is a couple years old now and it’s called My.Kali and it’s the first (online) venue where people can voice their concerns about the queer community and have discussions about what it is like to be gay in Jordan in the Muslim world. The government does have control over information in Jordan but they haven’t shut it down. It’s all online and a lot of the contributors are anonymous but a lot of them aren’t. On this site, people are coming out, speaking out, and making alliances with celebrities who are coming out with support of this magazine and support for this cause. They are having a lot of features with these celebrities and little by little, this new movement is gaining momentum and they’re getting the word out.


As the RA for the Rainbow Floor, what are some goals you have for the year?

I have a lot of goals as RA for the Rainbow Floor. In the past, I’ve known that the Rainbow Floor has had great programming and it is a really fun community to be a part of. People have come here to explore their identities with all these awesome programs that open doors for them to speak with one another as well as with their RA. I’ve heard really great things about past Rainbow Floor RAs. This year I really started thinking about what is the point of the Rainbow Floor. We all know that it is a place for all identities and a place for all of us to feel safe and come together to build community but I’ve been thinking and asking myself what do I have on my agenda? What do I want people to think about the Rainbow Floor for years to come? What do I want people to learn as a resident here and how do I want to do that? Vincent and I developed some learning outcomes this year and one of them that I feel very passionate about is connecting Rainbow Floor residents to the greater LA queer community, and not just LA but also United States and even beyond. Residents on the Rainbow Floor, whether they know it or not, are definitely leaders in the queer community because people know that the Rainbow Floor exists and see it as a place where queer people gather. I just really want to impart that to the residents and really encourage them to act on that and be knowledgeable of resources for the rest of campus and beyond as well because we represent USC. I would say that my goals for the Rainbow Floor is connecting residents to Los Angeles and giving them a global perspective on queer issues and provide them with the resources for those who are dealing with identity issues or even personal struggles that may or may not have to do with their queer identity. It is very important to be aware of personal needs of each resident and be able to be flexible and react well in order to provide resources for them.

What words of advice do you have for first year students (on how to get involved on campus)?
When I came in as a Freshman, and a spring admit, I had a really hard time plugging into the queer community on campus. I think I was really nervous and wasn’t really out and assertive in making friendships. I went to events and felt a bit left out and didn’t feel like I was a part of the community so I sought out other places that weren’t particularly queer spaces but I turned them into queer spaces. I would suggest finding your interests, connecting with people on campus. There are so many queer organizations, especially devoted to freshmen like FAB and uRap. I think uRap is such a great place to go and have discussions with people that you haven’t really met or gotten to know before. You could walk in for your first week in the middle of the semester without having met anyone and really connect with someone then have coffee with them afterwards. uRap is just a really unique program to USC and a really great place to start. But I also think it’s really good to have our queer community branch out a bit and do things that aren’t necessarily associated with the Rainbow Floor or QuASA or the LGBT Resource Center. I was a part of Trojan Knights and that is still a major network for me. I really get along with those guys; they’ve helped me and I’ve helped them. I really encourage people to take the plunge and go to that extra meeting that maybe they don’t have time for but it peaks their interest. They have four years so whatever they do their first year is only what they’ll do their first year. They may find another interest afterwards.

Besides being an RA for the Rainbow Floor, Kevin is actively involved with the Queer and Ally Student Assembly as well as Trojan Knights.

Coming Out Month Begins!

This month, USC is celebrating National Coming Out Month, which included National Coming Out Day on Thursday, October 11th to celebrate all identities on campus. On this day, the Queer and Ally Student Assembly sponsored the “National Coming Out Day Extravaganza” where students were able to come out as anything and share their identities by posting them on the base of Tommy Trojan. In addition to the National Coming Out Day Extravaganza, rainbow banners were placed on the lightpoles along Trousdale to symbolize USC’s vibrant LGBTQ community and the banners will remain up for most of the month.

As Coming Out Month continues, there is a wide array of events for students to attend and continue to embrace their own identity while learning about others. Below are some highly recommended events to consider.

Models of Pride 2012!
Saturday, October 13th 8AM – 9PM (Check in at Tommy Trojan)

The USC LGBT Resource Center will be hosting Models of Pride again! Models of Pride is a free one-day conference that focus on the concerns and interests of LGBTQ youth up to the age 24, and their allies. It is a conference that is filled with workshops, a resource fair, food, entertainment, and even a dance! Last year was the first time that USC opened up its campus to MOP and tomorrow the fun will begin all over again with new workshops, including some put on by our very own students. Visit modelsofpride.org for more information.

QuASA Empowerment Series
Gay (Sunday, October 14th 11:30AM – 4PM THH 212)
Bisexual (Sunday, October 21st 10AM – 4PM THH 212)
Transgender (Sunday, October 28th 10AM – 4PM THH 212)

The QuASA Empowerment Series continues! The Empowerment Series is a new intercollegiate initiative meant to bring people of all identities together and reflect on their own communities while learning more about their identities and share a discussion relating to each acronym. Last Sunday, QuASA had their Lesbian Day and as part of National Coming Out Month, each Sunday continues to be a day for empowerment of each community.

QuASA Screening of Mosquita Y Mari with Director Q&A
Wednesday, October 17th 6PM – 8PM THH 101

QuASA will be co-sponsoring with the Latino/a Student Assembly (LSA) to bring you a very special screening of Mosquita Y Mari, an independent queer film directed by Aurora Guerrero. The film is about two teenage Chicanas living in Huntington Park while discovering their own identities and this film was an official selection this year of the Sundance Film Festival. The director will be present for a Q&A segment following the film, so you wouldn’t want to miss this event!

These are a few of the events for this month. Please visit our full calendar of October events on the LGBT Resource Center’s website.

Angela on Being a McNair Scholar

Angela is currently a senior majoring in Sociology and Social Sciences
(Economics). This past summer, she took on a research project as a McNair Scholar and had the opportunity to present her research at the University of California, Berkeley. This is her interview on her research and experience as a McNair Scholar.

What is the McNair Scholars Program and what was your research about?
The McNair Scholars Program is actually a federal program that exists across the country and its purpose is to provide undergraduate research experience and resources on how to get to grad school to underrepresented students in higher education. So that’s for first generation college students, students of color, any kind of non-traditional student. They do so by basically teaching us how to do research on the undergraduate level but also they give us tips on research in general. They also give us a bunch of presentations on how to get into grad school and what you need for grad school. Pretty much all of us are coming from families that did not necessarily complete an undergraduate degree so graduate schools seem almost foreign to us.

I did my research on the experiences of undocumented, queer-identified immigrant youth and looked particularly at their coming out stories. I looked into when they came out as queer, when they came out as undocumented, difficulties they’ve had coming out as either within the community or with their family and my methodology was interviews so I interviewed them. Then I transcribed the interviews and looked for patterns in their stories.

What were your findings? What was something interesting you found from your research?
In analyzing the data, three major findings arose. The first one was that family tensions before disclosure of their queer identity were really high so all of the respondents feared for familial abandonment. This was the biggest stress for pretty much all of them in terms of them coming out to their families. Most of them were out and most of them were also able to maintain peaceful relationships with their families, even though they weren’t necessarily ideal. So for the most part, their families were tolerant and they were willing to open up to them a little bit.
The second major finding was that queerness emerged as a secondary coming out process so a lot of them came out as undocumented first, got politicized, got empowered in their undocumented identity and then transferred that empowerment into their queer identity. So for most of them, not all of them, queerness was a secondary coming out process.
The third finding was that my respondents viewed their experiences through intersectional lenses so rather than viewing them as totally separate identities, they really look at their experiences through a broader interconnected web of oppression and looked at how the way they were treated as undocumented was similar to the way that they were treated as a queer person. Both are stigmatized identities in our society and so they really viewed them as connected in a broader system rather than as two totally different identities that they just happen to be. This was really helpful when they wanted to connect with other organizations that aren’t necessarily undocuqueer organizations or even necessarily undocumented or queer organizations. They could connect with women’s rights groups because they would use their oppression and they would see it as a way to connect with other people because they understood how oppression was connected and it also, on a more basic level, it helped them to accept themselves and to say, “Yes, I can be queer and undocumented and a person of color.” It was a way for them to understand that they could be all those identities at one time.

Besides from the research, what have you taken away from the experience of being a McNair Scholar? 
One thing that I’ve taken away from the experience was constantly being with first generation students and first generation students of color all in a scholarly environments and I think that a lot of times, unfortunately because we are underrepresented in higher education, it is hard to find spaces where the minorities are the majority. So I think that it was really cool being in those environments where we all felt comfortable to speak our mind because we were not the only queer person in the room or not the only person of color or only first generation college student in the room. It was kind of therapeutic almost because you get to be with all of these other students who don’t come from families who have scholarly dinner discussions and stuff like that. It was cool for us to actually have those discussions and to be in a scholarly environment. Also, just going to UC Berkeley to present. Six of us got to go up UC Berkeley to present our research and it was really empowering to see so many students of color from across the country.

Do you feel that there is enough LGBTQ voices in the McNair Program (or in research programs all together) and if not, how can we encourage LGBTQ people to become more involved with research?
I think that queer people are natural scholars. Our experiences being alienated, learning to hate ourselves, gives us a different perception of the world and we interpret things in a different way that I think is very critical and analytical, which is what research is all about. Research is looking at a problem from a new angle and analyzing what you‘re seeing and I think that queer people are naturally good at that. We grow up being critical of things because we grow up with so much hate directed at us. So anytime there are scholars, there’s going to be queer scholars in there. With McNair, out of the six that went up to UC Berkeley, three of us were queer. In my cohort, I would say that we did have pretty decent queer representation; probably about five or six were queer-identified. Like I said, I think it’s just natural that queer people are smart. People of color are also smart, in my opinion.
I should say this, there are not a lot of people who are doing research on queer issues, and I think that is still kind of stigmatized. I think there is a lot of pressure on queer people not to do research on stuff that is queer-related because they might feel selfish, or feel like their problems s shouldn’t necessarily merit a bunch of research. They are more likely to do research based on ethnicity or race rather than queerness, which is kind of a problem.

I think a big thing is to encourage queer students to go to graduate school. A big part of McNair is graduate school so if students have the desire to go to graduate school then there are seminars on how to get into graduate school. They’ll learn that the best thing you can do is research, and have research experience on the undergraduate level.

Angela is involved with Youths Exploring Passion (Y.E.P.) and the Queer and Ally Student Assembly. She has recently started the Queer Youth Empowerment Project that works with local gay-straight alliances within Los Angeles County.

Adam on Being an Orientation Advisor

Adam is currently a sophomore majoring in Business Administration and
Communication. This past year,
he had the opportunity to take on a position as an Orientation Advisor for the USC Orientation Program — a program for newly admitted students and their families. This is his interview on how it was like being an OA for the 2011-2012 school year.

What was it like being an orientation adviser and what was some of your responsibilities?
Being an orientation adviser was a lot of fun. Our main job is to assist in the transition of students–whether they are freshman, international, graduate, transfer students to USC–getting them registered for classes, doing activities with them, telling them about resources, and things like that. We weren’t just dealing with freshman students; we had to deal with a wide variety of students, LGBT, straight, from China, from California. So, it was a lot of fun but it was also challenging in that regard because there are so many different types of students and it was impossible to relate to every single one of them. That is pretty much the goal of orientation.

What was one thing that you enjoyed the most from being an OA?
Probably the best part about being an OA was just meeting all the people, especially the freshmen because I am only a sophomore so I was in their spot like ten months ago when orientation was going on. So it was really cool how they could easily relate to me. They were all very excited to come to USC. For a lot of them, it was their first choice or they were spring-admits that got bumped to fall, or they just really wanted the package that USC offers. Also, becoming really good friends with all the other OAs too.

What was it like being out as an LGBTQ-identified person to the other OAs?
It wasn’t that hard at all. Orientation is a really all-inclusive department. They have people from all different religions, all different sexualities, sexual orientations, genders, everything. So I felt really comfortable. There were a couple of other LGBTQ people as well so that was comforting. But everyone who is an OA or a part of Orientation was accepting.

As a prominent leader of the LGBTQ community here at USC, how was it like taking that leadership experience and using it in your OA position?
It definitely helped me know that there is not just one type of LGBT. Growing up, I wasn’t around as many LGBT people so I was like one of the only ones. I knew some beside myself but really, LGBT people come from all different backgrounds as well. So being at USC, with all the experiences I’ve had, it had helped me become more accepting and include more people in the LGBT term. They are not necessarily going to appear as LGBT, or they may come from a different background, but we’re still a part of this community.

What have you gained from this experience that can possibly help you on your future endeavors?
It has definitely improved communication, public speaking skills, mentoring abilities (both as a mentee and mentor). It was a good learning experience to grow up with. I wasn’t a freshman anymore; I was now the one providing them with the information. The extra responsibility helped me grow.

Do you have any words of advice for LGBTQ students who may be interested in applying to be an OA?
If you’re planning to be an OA or to get involved, I would just say to be true to yourself. If you know how you identify, if you identify as some way, own up to that. It’s okay. You will definitely grow a lot throughout the year and start as early as possible. If you aren’t sure yet, or if you are just not comfortable, it’s okay to wait it out. I would still look for those organizations and people who are here to help you. Once you just develop relations with other people or with a support group, you will be able to develop yourself as well.

Aside from Orientation, Adam is also a USC Tour Guide, Daily Trojan Copy Editor, and Dornsife Student Ambassador. He is involved with University Rap as a facilitator and in USC Residential Government.

Andrew in Australia

Andrew is currently a junior studying Policy, Planning, and Development as well as Entrepreneurship. This past summer he had the opportunity to travel to Australia as part of an internship where students can gain valuable work experience in an international setting. This is his interview on what it was like being in Australia.

What was the purpose of your trip to Australia?
I traveled to Australia this summer to give myself a new perspective. One of the main things I did while abroad was intern at a non-profit that uses public policy to advocate for the rights and needs for careers of the mentally ill. I also planned on exploring the surrounding area while on the other side of the world.

Did you encounter any new perspectives there, whether political or not?
I was surprised at the fact that in Australia people have a higher standard of living. People my age would complain about how their part time job at the mall only paid $22 an hour. To most American youth, that is A LOT of money to get per hour at the mall. But there, people are paid a living wage, compared to our “minimum wage” here. They make enough money to survive, and are taken care of by their government. Being in Australia was a lot like being in a parallel universe of America. The people seem a lot like us and most things are familiar, but subtleties made it drastically different. Australia’s cordial relations with China, Cuba and various Middle Eastern countries strongly contrast the tension that exists between those nations and America. Another great thing I loved about Australia is how they are so informed about world affairs. I had more cab drivers analyze the US Presidential GOP candidates share their views than I have heard students at SC even mention any aspect of the presidential race. Also, I thought it was really cool how Australians loved to “keep it real” and just put profanity and slight nudity on the television. Four letter words are welcome on the TV and radio, and breasts can be shown. This is very different from home, but I think it’s nice that they don’t try to over censor everything. And their attitudes toward work were much more relaxed, which made for a less stressful work environment. It was also super strange that they have a parliament form of government and are still under the reign of Queen Elizabeth!

What were some highlights of your trip there? Any great new experiences?
The trip was an opportunity for me to branch out and meet other SC students from different social groups. I was so happy to bond with so many Greek students and make some friendships that will last a lifetime. While there I went to the Monster Ball to see Lady Gaga. I also clubbed at some of the most exclusive nightclubs in Sydney. Some of the other students on the trip had connections so I we were able to get in. I also traveled to New Zealand! That was life changing! I saw some of the most amazing geologic features on the planet, road tripped for over 12 hours driving on rural back country roads. Mind you, I had to drive on the left side of the road, which was so hard and scary at times! At one point it was pouring rain, I had the windshield wipers on full speed, had the high beams on since it was pick black, all while using the light from out iPods to read a paper map while driving on the windy wet road. We got to all our destinations safe and sound and the arguments only brought us closer together. I bungee jumped off a cliff over a beautiful river, explored caves. Another weekend, I went to Cairns in Queensland and lived in a hostel for several nights! While there I white water rafted, scuba dived the Great Barrier Reef, and hiked some of the most amazing trails in northern Australia. I also gained some of the most valuable and rewarding work experience of a lifetime! Also, it gave me a lot of time to reflect on who I am and the kind of people I value, helping me to establish a stronger sense of self. I also learned how to feel fulfilled each and every day in what I do and to appreciate everything and everyone who is in my life today, especially my best friends and family.

How can a student take the same trip as you did?
Students should seek out the Maxwell-Winslow Summer Internship offered by the Marshall School of Business. It’s open to all students, regardless of your major. They also offer need-based scholarships.

How was the attitude like towards LGBTQ people?
Sydney was so gay friendly. They have a part of the city called Oxford Street, which is like their version of West Hollywood. Rainbow flags were everywhere and there were plenty of LGBTQ-friendly clubs and venues. I also liked that almost every Australian, when referring to their spouse would say my “partner” as opposed to “husband” or “wife,” which has the dichotomy associated with them. So progressive! They still do not have legal gay marriage but there are a ton of campaigns working on it and it’s believed to be right around the corner.

Andrew has been involved with the Queer and Ally Student Assembly and he received a USC Stevens Institute Award for Innovation for his “Caught Queer-Handed” event.