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A University of Wisconsin Oshkosh human services student is taking civic engagement and service to the national level as she takes seat on the advisory board for one of the nation’s leading, nonprofit advocates for LGTBQ students.

Stephanie Rodriguez, of Riverside, Calif., is among 15 university and college students from around the nation to serve on the newly-created “Campus Pride” advisory board.

“For Oshkosh, it puts us on the map,” Rodriguez said. “It’s one student, but one student can change a lot.”

Campus Pride is described as “the leading national nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization for student leaders and campus groups working to create a safer college environment for LGBT students.” Student leaders are at the organization’s forefront, helping it “develop necessary resources, programs and services to support LGBT and ally students on college campuses across the United States.”

Rodriguez said the new Campus Pride advisory board will be a critical connector between campus populations around the United States and the official Campus Pride board of directors. On the advisory board, she joins students and alums from institutions including Arizona State University, West Virginia University, the University of Massachusetts Amherst and other campuses around the country.

“Right now, we’re trying to be a guide for the board of directors,” Rodriguez said. “We talk about programs that Campus Pride has put on or things they should think about doing. We’re the liaison between the board of directors and student groups on campuses.”

Campus Pride’s executive director, Shane Windmeyer, an author and advocate for gay and lesbian civil rights on college campuses, served as keynote speaker at the 2nd Annual Harvey Milk Commemorative Dinner hosted at UW Oshkosh in May 2012. That’s when Rodriguez said she began developing the support and the network to help her get to “Camp Pride,” a summer leadership camp designed “to build leadership capacity among LGBT and ally undergraduate college student leaders and to create safer and more inclusive campus communities in the United States.”

The opportunity to serve on the new Campus Pride advisory board developed out of her Camp Pride experience, Rodriguez said. She never expected her application would result in a seat at the table.

“I didn’t know if I’d get picked for it,” she said. “… I applied and I didn’t hear anything. I completely forgot about it, and, in the middle of summer, I got an email and was like, ‘How did this happen?’ It’s really exciting.”

Rodriguez will graduate in May 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in human services. Her studies have included a focus on grant writing. She has been active with UW Oshkosh’s Rainbow Alliance for Hope and other student organizations.

After graduation, she plans to pursue graduate school and, eventually, a career in student affairs in higher education. That is another reason the Campus Pride advisory board experience is so valuable to her–she’ll get an up-front seat within the leadership circle inside a national nonprofit expanding its influence around the country.

“I can see exactly where this is going through my education,” she said.


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