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My W&L: MK Moran ‘19 MK Moran's work with the LGBTQ Resource Center at Washington and Lee is impacting student perspectives.

“I want to make sure that all students feel welcome here, no matter their identity. We want to ensure that they feel welcome and that they feel that they will be heard and represented on campus.”

Mary-Kate-Moran-600x400 My W&L: MK Moran ‘19Meet MK Moran ‘19, whose work with the LGBTQ Resource Center is impacting student perspectives

When I first toured W&L, as a recently out-and-proud baby queer, I had reservations about my ability to fit into the community.  I set a specific goal for that day: I had to identify at least one sign of an LGBTQ+ presence on campus.  While I admit I had some degree of doubt that I would encounter anything that would fulfill that goal, I was optimistic, because I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated so many other aspects of W&L.  I thought that W&L had potential to be my home for the next four years, but I was still worried that this important part of my life would not be welcome here.  However, that afternoon, when I walked into the psychology class that I was sitting in on, I saw a student with rainbow pins on their backpack, and I breathed a sigh of relief.  If in this single class I could find LGBTQ+ representation, there must be a community of some sort here, I figured.  This one encounter, and the old LGBTQ+ resource center, the Hill House, gave me faith enough that I could make myself – my whole self – home here.

That following fall, when I arrived at W&L, I was surprised to find that, while that community did exist, it was very small and very quiet.  I got to know everyone involved and the LGBTQ+ coordinator, Rallie Snowden, very well, very quickly, as the community was just that small.  Starting the second semester of my first year, I began to actively work to help vocalize the LGBTQ+ presence in an effort not only to educate, but to try to reach any and all students who may benefit from it.  

The first project that I became very involved with was the Equality Gala in March, in which I debuted my interest in visual marketing and design.  Suddenly, my art appeared around campus, advertising this queer event that not only emphasized our presence as a community, but this notion of “Come as you are” that we try to preach on campus.

Later that semester, Rallie offered me a marketing position for my sophomore year, and I excitedly accepted.  Since the beginning of this year, I have been able to produce many pieces of visual advertisement for LGBTQ+ events and activities on campus in order to not only reach students who may benefit from them, but to also give a persistent public voice on campus for my LGBTQ+ peers.  I am so thankful for this opportunity as a chance to use my passion for art in a way that benefits the LGBTQ+ community as a whole and challenges the notion of homogeneity on our campus.

In my work for Rallie and with Generals’ Unity, I continue to come back to my first day on this campus.  I, as do the other LGBTQ+ peer counselors and members of Generals’ Unity, want to make sure that all students feel welcome here, no matter their identity. We want to ensure that they feel welcome and that they feel that they will be heard and represented on campus.  Every time one of my flyers or posters go up in Commons or online, I think back to two of my past selves – the self that was scared to come here and the self that was unhappy with the initial state of the LGBTQ+ community here – and, while I wish the community that we have developed now could have been available for both of them, I am so pleased with and proud of where we are now and the trajectory we have set for years to come.

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A little more about MK

Richmond, VA

Sociology Major with a Latin American and Caribbean Studies Minor.

Extracurricular involvement:
– LGBTQ+ Peer Counselor
– W&L Eventing Club
– Generals’ Unity
– Gender Action Group.

With a few friends, I started a creative writing club called Work in Progress, and I have a work study under Rallie Snowden in which I manage the marketing for LGBTQ+ events on campus.

Off-campus activities/involvement:
I volunteer with the United States Pony Club and at local equine veterinary clinics.

Why did you choose your major?
I chose sociology as my major, because I want to pursue a career in social work.

What professor has inspired you?
Professor Barnett has inspired me in terms of my career path, academic endeavors, and continued study of Spanish.

What’s your personal motto?
I don’t have one single motto that I choose to live by, but currently I keep coming back to the phrase “So now what?” to remind myself to process the here and now but to continue to move forward as well.

What’s your favorite song right now?
“Ashes and Wine” by A Fine Frenzy

Best place to eat in Lexington? What do you order?
I love Kind Roots, especially their smoothies.

What do you wish you’d known before you came to campus?
Before coming to W&L, I wish I had known that, while every moment passes, every moment is valuable and important, and that those moments go by very quickly.

Post-graduation plans:
As of now, I’m planning on getting a masters in social work after undergrad.

Favorite W&L memory:
Last year’s Equality Gala

Favorite class:
I don’t think I could pick a single favorite class, but Spanish 240 with Professor Barnett came to change the way I live and the way I look at life. I really owe that to the way Professor Barnett teaches and the literature that we read.

Favorite W&L event:
My favorite W&L event is the Equality Gala that we host every year in March.

Favorite campus landmark:
The LGBTQ+ Resource Center, of course!

What’s your passion?  
I have defined my life by an endless pursuit to spread kindness and compassion, to work to relieve pain and suffering, and to listen and advocate for the voices frequently silenced.

What’s something people wouldn’t guess about you? When I came into W&L, I thought that I wanted to be a STEM major and pursue a career as a veterinarian – both things that have changed now.

Why did you choose W&L?
I chose to come to W&L because I was very attracted to the idea of a small, liberal arts university.