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Student Spotlight: Triston Smith

Get to know Gender Violence and Social Change intern, Triston Smith!

Year: 2nd
Major: WGS and either Neuroscience or Cognitive Science
Hometown: Kesyville, VA

1. Why are you passionate about your program at the Women's Center?
I am passionate about the Gender Violence and Social Change program because I and many of my much-loved friends and family members are survivors of sexual assault and intimate partner violence. I think that it is up to everybody to put in the work that it takes to make sure that these problems are something that we, as a society, no longer turn a blind eye to or blame survivors for. It is all of our duty to make sure that the world is a safe place for all of its inhabitants.

2. What made you choose UVA over other schools you applied to?
I chose UVA because I was lucky enough to get a scholarship here AND in-state tuition. All of my other schools only offered one or the other.

3. What has surprised you about UVA?
I think what has surprised me most about UVA is the lack of support that many minority groups have. I think that a lot of student groups at the university don't actively try to allow an "integration" of different identities within our socially constructed categories. I find that a lot of my queer black friends have had to choose between being really actively involved in things like BSA and QSU, and I feel I've had to do the same. My first year I was more active in "queer activities" like QSU and The LGBTQ Center, and I noticed a severe lack of minority faces, even though I know a relatively large amount of queer people of color at the University. I think that intersectional identities are often disregarded and seen as things that we cannot focus on and invest our energy in, even though those with these identities are every bit as valid as people that are being persecuted or oppressed on other axes of their identity. I would love to say that everybody was supportive of people that often systematically have their voices stolen, but I can’t with a clear conscience, and I think that is terrible–especially for a liberal arts school.

4. What's something you know you do differently than most people?
I think that most people dress intentionally, but I have only met a few other people that dress intentionally /queer/.

5. If you could have coffee with anyone from history, who would it be and why?
If I could have coffee with anyone from history, I would have to choose Audre Lorde because I love her poetry and she was one of my first "a-ha!"/moment-of-awakening authors that has shaped my views of intersectionality. I also think that we would have a lot to talk about and offer each other in terms of plans and conversation, plus I would really love to seep some of her wisdom--ha!

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