This past weekend, the GSBA Scholarship Fund gathered virtually for a re-imagined version of our annual Leadership Immersion Weekend. While we were all disappointed that we couldn't get together in person, connecting virtually still served the important purpose of reminding scholars that they are not alone during these incredibly trying times.
This weekend’s workshop explored one of the most frequently asked questions that we receive from scholars:
How do I show up as my authentic self and stay true to my values, while working within inherently oppressive systems without getting burnt out?
To receive this question time and time again is a painful reminder that our next generation of leaders are still entering institutions that don't always value their unique and brilliant identities and experiences as LGBTQ people, people of color, and people with disabilities. It's a reminder that even after 30 years of investing in LGBTQ and allied scholars, we still have a lot of work to do to amplify diverse voices speaking out against inequitable systems – because these systems are still alive and well.
While painful, hearing this question from our scholars is also inspiring. It's inspiring to see their passion to change our current reality and create a society that values us all. Beyond their passion, this question also illustrates their thoughtfulness and strategic thinking. Our scholars are in this work for the long-haul and know that if any change is going to come, we need to take care of ourselves and take care of each other.
To help our scholars explore this question, we could think of no better group of people than our GSBA scholar alumni. Thirteen former GSBA Scholars (as well as one GSBA Board Member and two GSBA Business Members) stepped up to lead our eight breakout rooms. Scholars were broken up into groups based on their academic and career interests: Arts, Business & Communications, Education, Healthcare & STEM Research, Law & Public Policy, Mental Health & Social Services, Technology, and Trades. The hope was that these former GSBA Scholars and community members could lead honest conversations about what it has been like for them to work in each of these fields and give advice to the our current cohort.
After attending this workshop, scholars shared:
- Such a great experience! Not only incredibly inspirational hearing from peers and leaders in our community, but more community building – in seeing more queer-identifying folks being successful and staying true to themselves.
- I learned that a lot of the same questions and worries that I have about my career are shared with others in my field- I'm not alone!
- I learned about my own unlocked perseverance, resilience, and the validity of my experiences from hearing folks share theirs and how that led them to where they are today. Reminder that imposter syndrome is real, but shouldn't keep us down.
- This workshop was impactful because the facilitators are young and out and queer and doing badass work so it was very inspiring!
- I think I gained more insights on the importance of community and allies within advocacy, helping me become a leader who views a need for others as a strength rather than a weakness.
- It was extremely refreshing to have facilitators that have experience in industry. It was very easy to relate over our shared experiences that are unique as trade workers. While a lot of information and advice can be universal to all disciplines, I feel that there are some things that are very unique to the experience of being in the trades that I would not have been able to discuss otherwise. They were both very knowledgeable individuals that I felt I could be myself around and I will be reaching out to them to keep in contact.
As our workshop wrapped up, it was great to see scholars sharing their LinkedIn profiles and contact information with one another and asking when we could get together again. While GSBA Scholarship Fund workshops at their core are meant to create space for leadership development, they also serve the important purpose of connecting these incredible leaders with one another to build a community of support. We at GSBA could not be more excited to see the collective positive impact that this group of scholars continue to make.
Special thank you to our breakout room facilitators: Elliat Graney-Saucke (2004 GSBA Scholar), Landyn Pan (2014-2016 GSBA Scholar), Kyle Rapiñan (2008-2011 & 2014 GSBA Scholar), Jamie Keene (2012 GSBA Scholar), Brianna Bragg (2008 & 2010 GSBA Scholar), Julian Chavez-Gamez (2012 & 2013 GSBA Scholar), Nathan Hoston (2009 GSBA Scholar), Freddy Mora (2009 & 2010 GSBA Scholar), Tanner Vea (2003 & 2004 GSBA Scholar), Anthony Yun (2012-2014 GSBA Scholar), Lisa Eytel (2011 GSBA Scholar), Nyka Osteen (2013 & 2014 GSBA Scholar), Alik Brundrett (2014 & 2015 GSBA Scholar), Eve Gourley (GSBA Board Member & Product Owner, Slalom Consulting), Eli Allison (Owner, Repair Revolution), and Morgan Mentzer (Co-founder, Lavender Rights Project).