“Metropolitan State University is not unique in needing an office that serves women and members of the LGBTQIA+ community,” says incoming Women and LGBTQ Student Services Coordinator, Christa Spielman. “A sense of belonging is one of the most necessary things in order for a student to remain enrolled in a university and persist to graduation. This sense of belonging and connectedness is especially critical for women and members of the LGBTQIA+ community, as these populations of students frequently face barriers as they navigate a system of higher education that was not created with their underrepresented identities, in mind.”
Systematic oppression and inequity for women and members of the LGBTQIA+ community still exist in many areas including education, employment, housing, healthcare, athletics, leadership, sexual assault and harassment, earnings, and politics. By advocating for institutional change on issues surrounding gender justice, a Women’s and LGBTQ Resource Center can help increase the retention, safety and success of women and LGBTQIA+ students. A Women’s and LGBTQ Resource Center is an important asset not only because it allows for the acknowledgement of gender injustice, but it can also work to create desire to engage with principles of social justice and transformation.
Metropolitan State University Women and LGBTQ Student Services exists to provide support, advocacy, education and outreach for women and members of the LGBTQIA+ population. The coordinator provides services and programming that will make campus a place that engenders a culture of diversity and inclusion.
Spielman believes that “the office should act as a positive, proactive and effective catalyst to achieve equity and create a sense of belonging for all students, with a specific focus on women and members of the LGBTQIA+ community.”
Minnesota Air National Guard Chief of Staff Brig. Gen. Sandra L. Best
In February, alumna Air Force Col. Sandra L. Best became the first female general in Minnesota National Guard history when she was promoted to brigadier general. In her new position, Brig. Gen. Best will be the chief of staff of the Minnesota Air National Guard, responsible for command supervision, oversight and leadership of the 133rd Airlift Wing and 148th Fighter Wing to include all items pertaining to manning, operations, readiness, training and equipping of units in the Minnesota Air National Guard.
Best graduated from Metropolitan State University in 1988 with a bachelor of arts emphasizing human resource management. Her post-graduate education includes a master of business administration from the University of St. Thomas, as well as advanced education in leadership, public affairs and military operations. She is a graduate of the Air Command and Staff College, and Air War College. She was a Policy Fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
Originally from Northeast Minneapolis, Best joined the 133rd Airlift Wing, Minnesota Air National Guard in 1984, as a personnel specialist and progressed through the enlisted ranks to technical sergeant. She was commissioned in 1991 through the Academy of Military Science at McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base, Tennessee. Best has deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2008.
In 2015, she attended the Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Leadership in Homeland Security Program. Her career includes both public sector and military service. She serves as the director of Strategic Relations and Mission Support Group commander with the Minnesota National Guard. She will continue to promote the benefits of lifelong learning and specifically the unique nontraditional environment geared for diverse working adults at Metropolitan State. Best and her husband of 27 years have four daughters and reside in rural Wisconsin. In her free time, she enjoys socializing with family and friends in the St. Croix River Valley.
Metropolitan State University student and human trafficking survivor, Bukola Oriola, has been appointed to a two-year term on the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking. She recently returned from Washington, D.C. where she attended an inaugural meeting with the council and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
The council was established in 2013 by the Survivors of Human Trafficking Empowerment. The council is made up of eight to 14 selected volunteers who are survivors of human trafficking. Its purpose is to provide recommendations to the U.S. government to strengthen federal policy and programming efforts that reflect the best practices in the field. The council meets in person three times annually. An initial report from the council will come in May. Continue reading Bukola Oriola named to U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking→
Being a college student from any community can be stressful—it takes a lot of work to stay on top of education, career and personal responsibilities. For some students from historically underrepresented communities, those challenges can be unique.
That’s where Santos Martinez, Multicultural Affairs director, BernaDette Suwareh, African American student success coordinator, and Renee Beaulieu-Banks, student success specialist, come in. Multicultural Affairs offers services to help eliminate barriers that may hinder or prevent underrepresented students from achieving academic success in their endeavors.