Celebrating LGBTQ+ Alumni Career Journeys

“It was only in June of 2020 that the US Supreme Court ruled that federal anti-discrimination laws now protect LGBTQ+ leaders from employment discrimination in every state. This is a step in the right direction and a catalyst for us all to continue uplifting the rights and stories of our LGBTQ+ students and alumni,” says Cal Alumni Association (CAA) Chief Program Officer Anh Tran ’06. At a recent virtual career panel, Cal alumni in the LGBTQ+ community connected with our Alumni Scholars and student leaders from the Achievement Award Program, Leadership Award, Cal Pride Scholarship, Educational Opportunity Program, and Gender Equity Resource Center. Student leaders received advice on staying true to their values while working toward their career goals.

“Being nonbinary was a huge asset in my leadership role because I could hold space for the queer fellows we served and advocate on behalf of them.” —Ari Vargas ’15

Deary Paul Duffie MBA ’84 reflected on how terrifying it was when during his first year of teaching, the Briggs Initiative—aimed to ban LGBTQ+ individuals from becoming teachers—was proposed. Deary shared, “Harvey Milk was instrumental in fighting this measure. I realized in that moment that I needed to fight for space and the life I wanted.”

Ari Vargas ’15 described how important it is for them to be in a work environment with colleagues that make them feel seen. “I realized, once I could bring my full self, that being nonbinary was a huge asset in my leadership role because I could hold space for the queer fellows we served and advocate on behalf of them,” says Ari.

Natalyn Daniels ’11 encouraged students to “nurture relationships outside of work that could affirm [your] identity when that’s not possible in the workplace.” In a powerful conversation around equity and diversity, Cesar Santiago ’05 highlighted the importance of “looking not only at the diversity of the organization’s frontline workers, but also the diversity of leadership and the board.” The Alumni Scholars Program is committed to creating inclusive community spaces that help prepare and support our LGBTQ+ student leaders in their career journeys and dreams for the future.

The Alumni Scholars Program continually develops programming that connects students and recent graduates with alumni. There is a vast need for LGBTQ+ mentorship on campus, and we hope to continue building student-alumni connections. If you are interested in volunteering, contact Fritzie de Mata at fritzie.demata@alumni.berkeley.edu.

Watch: Celebrating Our LGBTQ+ Alumni and Their Career Journeys

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