Joe Biden recognizes GC student efforts for LGBT equality
National convention for students leading universities and communities to equality and understanding between the Lesbian Gay Bi Transexual community hosted at the vice president’s home in Washington
Not many people can say that they have attended a barbecue at Vice President Joe Biden’s house, but senior music therapy major Grace Nichols can. Rubbing shoulders with the vice president was just one of the perks of being honored as a rising LGBT leader in Washington, D.C.
In addition to attending dinner at the Biden residence, Nichols attended a LGBT Policy Roundtable at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and a Senate hearing titled “Hate Crimes and the Threat of Domestic Extremism.”
Nichols met and networked with other LGBT leaders.
“It was really inspiring to know that we are a part of a movement towards equality for this country and this world,” Nichols said. “I feel really proud to be in the LGBT community.”
Nichols was nominated to attend the event by Pride Alliance adviser and housing staff member Jessica Rehling.
“Grace is a past president of the Pride Alliance, and she is everywhere.” Rehling said. “I got to see her in her role with Pride, I got to see her role as a social justice advocate, her work with music therapy, her volunteerism, her advocacy and she just kind of stood out as this all-star student.”
Rehling’s nomination allowed Nichols to be one of an estimated 100 out of 170 invitees who attended the event.
“To see Grace finally getting recognized not just on campus but on a national level after so many years of work was really awesome,” Mia McMahon, senior geography major, said. “I was excited about how much attention it was getting on campus because I don’t think that many of us who do a lot of work for LGBT issues on campus get a whole lot of exposure.”
At the Senate hearing, Nichols had the opportunity to listen to a young man who lost his mother in a hate crime.
“It was just really powerful to be at a senate hearing and to get that experience,” Nichols said. “Learning about what is happening on a federal level as far as moving our nation towards a safer and equal place.”
Nichols had a goal of raising $300 to fund her trip. She received an outpouring of support from different offices across campus, the Pride Alliance and private fundraising which brought her total funds to $455. She plans to use the excess funds to take someone with her to the National Conference on LGBT Equality in Atlanta in January.
“I feel that we’re being a part of a super positive change in the nation where we realized that we’re all human beings, even our oppressors, so we can create a more positive energy in this nation.” Nichols said. “I didn’t expect to feel so inspired to continue this kind of work.”