June is Pride Month accross the world, and we at Michigan Earth had the honor of talking with recent graduate Sabrina Lanker, who is working full-time in a medical research lab and hopes to pursue grad school in the future. Sabrina spoke on her experience pertaining to Pride at the University of Michigan and as a student in Michigan Earth.

See her full interview below.

What has been your experience pertaining to Pride within the Earth and Environmental Sciences department here at the University of Michigan?

Before I transferred from Washtenaw Community College to the University of Michigan I was welcomed by the Spectrum Center for a college mixer/meet-up. I had the opportunity to meet fellow LGBTQIA2s+ people from the EARTH department before I even transferred! We were all able to attend MBLGTACC (The Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Asexual College Conference) at Western Michigan University together. I made great friends through this collaboration who I am still friends with to this day!

How do you feel that Michigan Earth (can be students, staff, faculty) supports members in the LGBTQIA2s+ community?

Michigan Earth supports members in the  LGBTQIA2s+ community by always welcoming and accepting everyone with open arms. The students on Earth are exceptionally open-minded and it was very easy to make friends and find common interests with a variety of people. The staff and faculty go out of their way to make students from all backgrounds feel accepted and valued in the department. The department as a whole is very inclusive to all people and have always made me feel welcome. The stickers, t-shirts, water bottles, pins, and other free merchandise shows how the department cares about students and wants to give them cool ways to represent the department while expressing themselves. I love the new designs every year and I love how the department shows how much they care about their students, more than any other department that I have seen.

What positive memories do you have at Michigan Earth as it pertains to Pride or the LGBTQIA2s+ community?

I recently attended Motor City Pride in Detroit MI with a group of amazing friends all of whom I met through the Earth department at the University of Michigan. I haven't been to the festival in 5 years and I am so happy that I got to experience it again with a loving and accepting group of people from Michigan Earth. I have many fond memories of going on summer field trips and attending Camp Davis with my LGBTQIA2s+ friends. The trips and camp is where I met a lot of them and spending time together in those close environments really helped us open up and get to know each other more. In just a matter of weeks we became extremely close and I was so happy to find people in the Earth community who understand, love, and accept each other.

How do you think Pride is shown here at Michigan Earth?

Pride is shown on Earth through how the students express themselves. I love Earth because I can wear whatever I want, do my hair however I want, and be whoever I want without feeling judged. The professors are accepting of all students and they want everyone from all walks of life to just enjoy Earth science and learn something. The ability to use the bathroom which you most identify with was one of the first things I noticed about Michigan Earth. My first day of classes I was happy to see that they were accepting and that they were letting students know that it is okay to be themselves without judgement. The LGBTQIA2s+  inclusive merchandise is also something I've always loved, including the pronouns pins and pride stickers. 

What do you think staff, students, and/or faculty can do to better support the LGBTQIA2s+ community?

We could have gender neutral bathrooms and maybe Earth Pride t-shirts, but that's the only thing I can think of.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about Pride, the LGBTQIA2s+ community, or Michigan Earth?

Michigan Earth is an inclusive environment where you are free to be yourself!  Michigan Earth is LGBTQIA2s+  friendly and you will feel welcomed here because you belong here!