As I have revamped this space, I realized that I needed to have some way to introduce myself to you. You can certainly roll over my Gravatar (the picture of me in the top right), but I think regular readers probably deserve a little more than that. In qualitative research, we’ve been trained to call this a reflexivity statement. While that certainly describes what comes later, I don’t necessarily like using the word in daily life. Reflexivity implies some specified context of thought. When I wrote my thesis, I was writing reflexively on my experiences as a queer STEM student. But this is different.
This is a little about my story. That’s all. Where I’ve come from, what I’ve done, how I’ve gotten to this station of life. Other pieces might come out in the future like my disassociation with religion, my church, and my reevaluation of my faith. Or how I navigated the workspace as a closeted, queer person who did not necessarily match the definition of “television ready.” But that’s for then. For now, here is my story:
I was born and raised in Kansas City, Kansas. If you ever suggest I am from Missouri or from one of the city’s fine suburbs, be prepared for an immense portion of side-eye served alongside a generous helping of shade. Although I was from (nearly) downtown KCK, I attended a small (at the time) high school in Bonner Springs, KS. There, I discovered my love for learning, leadership, and student advocacy. I have no doubt my councilor and vice principals were happy to see me leave the school and forever exit their offices.
After high school, I chose to stay close to home and attend the University of Kansas. When I think of myself as a freshman then as a senior in college, I am amazed at the amount of maturation, growth, and change I underwent (and humility, obviously). I majored in Atmospheric Science (meteorology) with a focus in News Media Forecasting. I never changed my major (although I thought about it), but I did add a minor in Mathematics. I loved (and still love) science. I had known I wanted to be a meteorologist for most of my life, but felt called to the profession in May 2003 when a tornado ripped through the western half of the county.
In the summer following my freshman year, I found a job as a peer advisor with the University Advising Center at KU. I had the time of my life with that group. I was also fortunate enough to be chosen as a year-round peer advisor in the office. I stayed in that position until my graduation. I also worked for one summer as a telecounselor, calling potential students and encouraging them to apply or answering their questions. During my last two years at KU, I also served as the student assistant for the pre-law advisor and the Mount Oread Scholars program. Additionally, I volunteered as a student ambassador and gave tours to prospective students. My involvement at the University was deep and sparked a passion for working with students.
I continued to explore my love of meteorology, however, and also took an internship at the local television station, 6NEWS Lawrence. After the summer, I was hired as a part-time contracted meteorologist. I am so fortunate to have been given that opportunity as a junior and am very grateful for my experience. However, the pettiness and generally unwelcoming atmosphere helped me realize that I could not continue in the profession. So, during my senior year at KU, I began applying to graduate school for a master’s in higher education.
In the summer of 2012, I moved to Lincoln, Neb. After a rough couple of weeks, I found the greatest group of friends, supporters, advocates, and allies a person could ask for. During my first week of orientation, I decided to begin living openly as a gay man. I am forever grateful for my cohort and their support. On my birthday in 2013, I came out to my parents who have never been more supportive and loving.
In May 2014, I completed and published my thesis Making Their Own Way: The Experiences of Gay Male Students in STEM Fields. Two days after graduation, I moved from Lincoln to Stillwater, Okla., to take a position as the Coordinator for Student Union Programs.
I identify as a gay, androsexual, generally cisgender, white male. I am a person of size, a feminist, and a queer researcher, professional, and activist. I opt for the masculine pronouns of he, him, and his. I hope to use this blog as a way to document my first year as a student affairs professional, discuss and dismantle systems of oppression, and always keep a keen eye on pop culture.