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LGBT Resource Center Alumni

Welcome all UC San Diego LGBT Alumni and our allies! The UC San Diego LGBT Resource Center serves our entire community, including students, faculty, staff and OUR alumni. We are proud to have YOU as a part of our family.

Whether you were out when you were here at UC San Diego, have gotten connected with the community since you have left, or are looking to connect to the community for the first time, we are excited to be able to build a sense of family and connection among all of our LGBT alumni.

In partnership with the UCSD Alumni Association and our alumni liaison Alyssa Swall (aswall@ucsd.edu), our community comes together as an LGBT Alumni Affinity group. It is easy to be a part of the LGBT Alumni Affinity group. Just e-mail us and let us know you would like to join! We will then put you on our e-mail list, and send you information and updates about what is happening for LGBT Alumni here at UC San Diego.

Two events happen annually as a part of our efforts to build community among our LGBT alumni. They include a LGBT chapter Induction Ceremony, which is in conjunction with UC San Diego's Rainbow Graduation. It falls on the first Saturday of each June in the late afternoon. The chapter also has an annual LGBT Alumni Brunch in October. 

Anytime you are back in San Diego, please feel free to come by and visit the Center. Our library hosts the UC San Diego LGBT historical collection. You can browse the events, articles and happenings of the years you were at UC San Diego. And we love to connect with our LGBT Alumni, just hearing the stories of how it was “when I was here…”

Honoring over a decade of interns and student employees at the UC San Diego LGBT Resource Center

In 2012 at the annual UC San Diego LGBT Alumni brunch, over 70 student employees & interns were asked to share the stories and experiences from their time at the LGBT Resource Center.  The result is a collection of reflections which speaks eloquently to the impact of the Resource Center on the lives of Tritons.  Please take a moment, read some of these powerful memories, and if you would like to submit your own, just contact Shaun Travers at stravers@ucsd.edu.

Haley Ausserer

Student Staff, 2001-2002

I volunteered and subsequently interned at the LGBTRC from 2001-2002. I was there when Shaun was hired, and what an exciting time that was! He brought such enthusiasm to the position, and really energized the then-LGBTRO. I worked with members of QPOC to coordinate two Generation Q youth conferences, visiting high schools all over the San Diego area to recruit attendees. With my passion for reading and LGBT history, I also made it a personal priority to grow our library. My experiences with the wonderful people I met through the LGBTRC are my favorite memories from the time I spent at UCSD. I learned so much about community organizing, effective communication, and being a responsible and respectful white ally from the amazing people with whom I had the great fortune to collaborate. I am grateful for my time there, and for the mentorship and friendship of people like Shaun Travers, Barbara Estrada, Vanessa Teran, Michael Kaufmann, Kim Merino, Brie Feingold, and Erica Lo.

Chris Gauthier

Intern Class, 2008-2009

I find that for myself, times of great turbulence and change make me question whether or not what I am doing is worth pursuing. The UCSD LGBT Resource Center provided the perfect environment for a catalyst of growth, the speed of which resembles a beautiful hot mess. There were moments where I felt deeply connected to what was going on, like teaching about the inextricability of gender and all other ways of experiencing the self. The three community centers training and standing in solidarity with my chosen family helped my heart’s mind expand. I survived significant exposures that left me devastated and questioning the core of who I am and what I desire to be[come]. There are still other ventures where my heart glazed over in a jaded haze about the systematic politics that seem to pervade every corner of this earth. Working at the LGBT Resource Center provided an opportunity for me to grow as a whole person, not just within my sexuality. It was a complex endeavor. I would trade nothing for my experience at the LGBT Resource Center: while being there was not always fabulous, the depth, knowledge and wisdom I gained as a human being far outreaches what I would have been able to grasp elsewhere. During that short year in the context of my life, I know that for me, working and learning there was where I needed to be.

Sakura Evans

Intern Class of 2005-2006

Being the Library Coordinator at the LGBTRC was never a job I dreaded going to. I never found myself dragging my feet to work, wishing I had a reason to call in "sick," or trying to skip out early. In fact, I tended to show up early just to hang out with friends or study in the conference room. I never left on time because I was always getting caught up in interesting conversations, or encouraging the clubs and groups to take as much time as they needed to continue their discussions or planning.

The RC was a comfortable, quiet, and accessible academic resource for study groups, tutoring, or research. It was a place to take a nap on the couch and feel like you were relaxing in a tree house. It was a haven for those who needed it, and it was a place to find support: academic, mental, and emotional. It was the social nexus for some of the most amazing people I've ever met and feel privileged to call my friends. The effervescence, the energy, the safety, the relationships, the support, and the pride. In all of these ways, and so many more, it was truly a community.

Reflecting back on the impacts the LGBTRC left upon my life, the most important (and lasting) impact it has left on me is the concept of 'Community.' I've never been part of such a special community since leaving San Diego, and I use it as a model for a community I hope to build and become a part of in the future. Despite being an uninformed, uneducated outsider, I was welcomed into this community with encouragement, grace, and friendship. Because of what I learned and experienced being a part of the LGBTRC, I still consider myself a part of this community and always will.

Anthony Nunez, Peper Anan, Louise Ly, Aaron Baumbach, Will Gorham, and Jan Estrellado made coming to work a pleasure. It was hard to call it 'work' when I was getting paid to spend time with my friends.

Debbi Blake was my fearless educator. She never shied away from my ridiculous questions, and kindly explained the more subtle nuances of LGBT politics and history to me.

And Shaun Travers was more than my boss, he was a friend and mentor. By example, he taught me when to be professional, when to listen, when to be strong, and when it's time to relax and have fun.

I'm so proud to have been a part of the LGBTRC history, and I'm so proud of the work that continues to be done. Congratulations and good luck on another 10 years of success!

Mike Moody

Intern Class 2007-2008 and 2008-2009

It’s been three years now since I was an intern at the UCSD LGBT Resource Center. Though in many ways it feels like ages as life outside of the Resource Center walls is so dramatically different. For me, it was a nurturing place. If college is supposed to be a time of growth and self discovery, the Resource Center was that to the nth degree. It was a place to incubate our thoughts, our identities, and our definitions of the world spinning on around us. Not only do I credit so much of my personal development just to walking through those doors for the first time my freshman year, but I grew so much more when I was afforded the opportunity to open those very same doors to others. Sitting at the front desk, answering the phone, and of course organizing and re-organizing the library (my guilty pleasure/job), I was able to welcome new members of the community and be an integral part of their personal growth. That will always be one of the most rewarding aspects of my undergraduate career.

Hearing stories from friends I’d made telling me that I was the first person to greet them, remember their name and so on… those are the moments I am most proud of. I remember the first person to greet me (Jan, former Assistant Director for Education), and I remember the first person to befriend me (Ariel, former Speaker’s Bureau Intern), and to know that I was that person for even one student is more than enough thanks. The Resource Center with all of its support, love, friendship, drama, conflict, passion, and resources (go figure) challenged my ideas, and I pushed back and challenged some of theirs, too. It kept us safe and we took care of each other in that amazing structure at the end of the catwalk. Whether I was just walking past it, or standing at the top hooking the Pride Flag up with bungee cords, I will always feel proud and give a little salute whenever I see that rainbow fly. Without the LGBT RC, I never would be the person that I am today. I am eternally grateful for the people, the morning coffee, the catered programs, the distraction from school, the teamwork, the agreements (we grew from those too), and singing and dancing together to “Bills, Bills, Bills” in the family room, for family day, for Thanksgiving, for balloon arches, and for every nap I took on those wonderful chairs… Happy Anniversary and cheers to many more years of community, family, and a place we can always call home!

Mary Kong

Intern Class of 2006-2007

I remember getting to help plan the event the first year we were at the new space. I remember meeting you [Shaun] for our 1:1 in the old trailer, where the old center used to be. It honestly, seems like just yesterday I was learning how to operate phones in a professional manner, using the phone intercom rather than screaming someone's name across the room (I’m pretty sure that you all still use that story when training new interns).

My experience at the LGBT Resource Center allowed me to understand the different dynamics of what community is and why it is crucial to have a space at UCSD for the LGBT community. I’ve listened to and shared stories with so many members of the LGBTRC—from staff, students, alumni and community members, that the laughter, insight, good memories, and lessons learned seem to always bring a smile back. Sometimes I forget the pain that the community has had to gone through during the first year it was in such a visible center of campus. I remember the cases of harassment and tactics that community members would share, and even the visual defacement of the flag that we hung so proudly every morning next to the stairs—It always made me feel ashamed that we were a part of a larger society that didn’t treat people justly or strive for equity. Although, I am not naïve to think that the cases of harassment to the LGBT community has lowered since I have been at UCSD, I am glad that there is a space, where the LGBT community and its allies can come together to share their experiences, knowledge, strengths, and accomplishments.

I remember one of my last events as an intern at the LGBT RC was tabling at Admit Day—there were some folks who would walk right by me as if I didn’t exist (how else can they miss a huge rainbow flag?), and a few folks who came up to me with their families or partners with their questions and concerns. The few folks who stopped by the table also came for the tour of the center. It was powerful to share the physical space that we had and the programs and services that we offered to folks who were looking for a space to call their home away from home. I knew that if they did decide to come to UCSD that they would have been taken by the community.

I hope that the staff, interns, and community have a great time at the alumni brunch. I look forward to having the opportunity to stop by the center to see how much it has changed and grown since I have been there. Congratulations on 10 years of building community!

Yesenia Portillo

Intern Class of 2006-2007

My internship at the LGBTRC was about six years ago, and writing down my reflections on it is a little bit of a challenge, to say the least. Of course, I remember it with fondness, especially our weekly staff meetings. Although I struggled to get myself out of bed on those days, first quarter, when the early morning meetings conflicted with my “not-a-morning-person” personality, they are something I wish I had to go to now. There haven’t been many times since then where I’ve had a chance to check-in weekly with ten people whom I love and respect, that listen and support one another. Certainly not since graduating from UCSD. We would often refer to our lives as interns and as UCSD students as part of a bubble. I’m grateful for the love and support that bubble within a bubble provided.

Really, it’d be difficult for me to recount so many experiences I had throughout my year as an intern, but I do know I took with me some very important life lessons. It taught me a lesson in cherishing great work environments and work families, where one’s opinions and personal lives matter. It was an exciting time, in a beautiful new space, that I was fortunate to be a part of. We discussed often and at length the character and image of the new center and I remember the staff discussing a desire to explicitly avoid the term “safe space” to describe it, since no space can ever be said to be one hundred percent “safe”. Outside the bubble, where my post UCSD life has found me for the last couple of years, homophobia and racism have been just as abundant and blatant as I knew that it would be. My current work spaces, often constituting the opposite of what I would ever consider a “safe space”, have forced me to quickly learn how to implement the tools I gathered as an undergrad to function amidst lack of consciousness - to respond from places of love, understanding, and respect. Collectively my experiences at UCSD helped me work through my instincts to respond with anger to every day violences and the LGBTRC was a huge part of that. I will forever cherish the LGBTRC for providing a space where the causes and effects of gender violence, homophobia, trans violence, sexism, and racism were explicitly confronted alongside a community that was always welcoming to me – something that I truly believe has been vital to arming me with the strength to live much more lovingly amidst it all.

Will Gorham

Intern Class of 2005-2006

My internship with the Resource Center was my first professional internship of my career. It has definitely helped to propel me into the person I am today professionally, but I was lucky because it was more than just a career builder position. I made great friends and memories…

I remember the nights keeping the Center open, sitting quietly at my computer in the staff office while one of the groups would meet in the main area. Sometimes they’d be open meetings, sometimes they’d be closed, often they’d be rowdy, and sometime quiet or heavy; but always interesting. My favorite part of it was to be able to engage with the diversity of personalities coming through the space, and to be able to connect with many individuals in a way I simply would not have otherwise.

I remember pulling all the information together for the weekly newsletter—my responsibility—and revamping the format so it worked better. I always felt proud that one of my recommendations was included and used even after my time. Being given the chance to offer my own thoughts to an important part of the Center’s community outreach was a big deal to me. After years I still seem to do very similar things for work, so the experience has served me better than I would’ve thought then.

I remember seeing the HUGE new center for the first time. It’s funny to look back at it now because it doesn’t seem as big in my memory as it did seeing it empty that first time. So much brighter and open and full of possibilities. I loved the intimacy of the trailer, but this new (now old…) center felt just as much like home. Funny to see so tangibly how space matters.

The thing I remember most about my time as an intern at the Center was the people I met. Dedicated people helping to push UC San Diego’s institutional boundaries while also building such a strong community. People that truly cared about those they worked with and that continue to make such an impression on every new set of students. Great friends that seem to come and go, but then show up again like great friends do. And a special person that after nearly seven years I can’t imagine living without.

Again, I feel so incredibly lucky for the chance I was given and I hope that these opportunities will continue to be given for years to come. They mean so much to so many people.

Val Burns

Student Staff, 2000-2002

When I worked at the lgbt resource center from 2000 until 2002, we were a fledgling organization. It was Shaun, Miley and I. Debbie got hired in 2001 I think. We put booths up at all the school fairs and I tried to connect with the local community in SD by creating fliers, and bilingual at that. This job inspired me to write lgbt op Ed articles in the guardian (google me and guardian), intern for Toni Atkins as well as the ngltf in dc and work on legislation at the federal level. Shaun is a great leader and very inspiring person. Without him I may not be the person I am today. I am no longer as connected to the community here in Portland, but I do little things to advocate: donate to Hrc and ACLU and coach youth rugby and serve as a mentor. Great memories at UCSD!

Johnnie Rivas

Intern Class of 2005-2006

Something that I choose to reflect on is the various times I gave tours of the Resource Center. These are significant to me because giving a tour usually meant that a person was new to the Resource Center and the tour would be their first interaction with the space and its various assets. It is reminiscent of my first time in the space and experiencing the warm welcome via the tour and the genuine enthusiasm of the intern. After my tour, I just remember having the thought “I want to be here.” For me, tours were one way to share this and other elated experiences with individuals and signified the beginnings of establishing connections to the community.

Deano Caisip

Web and Graphic Design Intern 2007-2008

UC San Diego Alum 2011

I'm very happy to hear that the UCSD LGBT RC internship program is now on its 10th year! I'm extremely grateful to have been a part of this program five years ago. I can't believe it has been that long! I learned so many things as an intern of the Resource Center, and I am very happy to say that I will not be the empowered, creative, and confident person that I am now without the experiences I learned there. Working with such skilled and dedicated people during my time as an intern/ student was one of the best things that has ever happened to me, and I could not be more proud to have had the opportunity to grow with my beautiful peers. The success of this program would not be possible without the phenomenal efforts of Dr. Shaun Travers, Ms. Jan Estrellado, Mr. Anthony Nunez, and the people who stood their ground to keep the LGBT spirit alive on- and off-campus. I wish for the LGBT Resource Center to continue its legacy in providing a safe-space not only to those already comfortable in their identities, but also to those who are still in their unique journey in finding their true selves. Here's to another wonderful decade of growth and joy!

Teresa Trout

Intern Class of 2007-2008

I am honored to share in the legacy of LGBT Resource Center interns. My time at the LGBTRC stands out so clearly to me because it changed me forever. I remember sitting in one of our last intern meetings, all gathered around the conference room, bawling my eyes out. I remember Jan asking me if I could share what my tears were about and my response was "I am not ready to leave." I was in my 5th year at UCSD and due to finances, I couldn't stay another year despite wanting so desperately to. It saddened me because it had taken so long to find my place at UCSD. I had been associated with the Resource Center when we were in a trailer over by the Gilman parking structure, but I didn't fully allow it to be my home until those last few years and by the time that I was sitting in that intern seat, my heart was craving more and was sad to know that it would all change as I stepped out of the security of being a student. My college years were a very rocky period in my life and I look back on that last year with incredible fondness because for the first time, I had my community and my home. It was a hard adjustment to leave UCSD when I didn't feel ready, but having the center to always go back to, no matter who came in or out, has always filled me with a sense of comfort. I am forever grateful for the work that we as interns do to help shape and create an amazing community of activists.

Anthony Nuñez

Intern Class of 2006-2007

UC San Diego is like that lover who was originally supposed to be a one night stand, but someway, somehow, eight years later you're sitting at a coffeehouse (on your day off) figuring out how to describe your (seemingly) eternal love affair! My original plan when I transferred was to go to class, take my finals, and get the heck out of there. No friends, no social b.s., just business. But then I ran into this nondescript trailer next the Gilman Parking Structure, and attended the second annual Q Camp (or was it third? first? whatever, it was a long time ago). It was there that my career at UC San Diego was forever changed. My plan to remain aloof and unattached was shredded to pieces by many, many fierce, powerful, epic, and most of all, loving queers. Instead, I was afforded the opportunity and privilege to develop my own sense of self, my own pride, and my own family. Through my involvements with Queer People of Color and the LGBT Resource Center (both as an intern and as a professional staff person), I solidified my identity as a Queer Mexican Filipino man. Privilege, power, and oppression became a part of my life philosophy (and remain so to this day). I will forever be grateful for all the lessons, both harsh and loving, that I learned at UC San Diego. I will forever be glad that I rolled over in the morning, and UCSD was still there, morning breath and all.

Brian Schaefer

Intern Class of 2003-2004

The first meeting of the first year of the LGBTRC interns took place in Shaun's office, in a makeshift trailer that served as the LGBTRC, in the middle of the parking lot that is now the Music Department. At least eight of us were crammed into a space meant for two, maybe three. I was an eager bunny, just back from a year abroad where I had all of Europe to explore my newly-out self. The year that followed was a pretty thrilling and formative one, at least on a personal level.

Looking back, I can't even remember what I accomplished but I have the sense that my co-Arts and Culture intern, Miccaela Baird-Rosecrans, who I still think is one of the most beautiful women I've ever met, probably did a lot more than me. But what I gained from that opportunity was the understanding of how my love of arts and culture and my gay identity could influence and feed each other in remarkably rewarding ways. Up until that point, I had been coming to terms with, and developing separately, all the parts of me I valued most: being an artist, being a gay man, being a proud Jew. Now, living in Tel Aviv as a writer and journalist, and reporting on the arts and LGBT issues in Israel, it's clear to me where I learned to mash up all my different parts so that they would support and inform each other: It was in a small office, in a makeshift trailer, in the middle of a parking lot.

Sean Laperruque

Night Manager '02-'05

I remember my time at the LGBT RC for the nicknames it earned me. One nickname was “Sean La,” which was adopted to distinguish me from the other Seans at the RC. There was, of course, our illustrious Director, Shaun Travers, whom we called “Shaun Tra.” And then there was my roommate, Shawn Ta, whom we simply called “Shawn Ta”. It was a very convenient system, and the nickname kinda stuck.

Then comes the story of how I came to be called “The Wall”. One of my main duties was to compile and compose material for the RC’s weekly Rainbow Newsletter. To do this, I would sit at the Assistant to the Director, Debbi Blake’s, desk which was behind a partition wall separating the reception from the common area. This was the setup of our fine, double-wide trailer. The partition wall didn’t quite reach to the ceiling, so I could hear the goings-on in the common area. Debbi, my boss, had a doorbell installed under the desk to ring in case things got loud ‘n rowdy while I was on the phone or receiving a guest. Folks would joke that I was like some kind of Wizard of Oz-like power from behind The Wall. On nights that the LGBTQIA (doo-dah!) would meet in the common area, I would read out announcements from the Newsletter. I knew it was my cue when the student group would yell, “Wall!!” to bring me out for announcements. And some of those students still jokingly call me, “The Wall”.