Over his four years at the University of Richmond, senior Jeff Lowe has worked in the Center for Student Awareness, Response and Education, acted as a Wellness Education Bandit and has been heavily involved in the LGBTQ+ Coalition, he said.
With the move to remote learning because of COVID-19, Lowe's job-hunting process has been put on pause.
"I think [not having a job] makes the uncertainty of the world we're living in much more difficult," he said. "I was applying for jobs over spring break and now those companies are in hiring freezes. I was hoping to have a job and be signing a lease on a new apartment right now, but now I'll be at my parents' [house] until things open up and I am able to get a job."
Lowe has been on the executive board for the Coalition since his first year spring semester, acting as a community outreach chair, event coordinator and president for the past two years.
"I spent a lot of time hanging out in the LGBTQ+ lounge my first year because I really wanted to meet other queer folks and figure out how to get involved with LGBTQ+ activism on campus," Lowe said.
Lowe said he had been encouraged to run for a leadership role after becoming close friends with Kylie Britt and Alanna Breeden, then-co-presidents of Students Creating Opportunities, Pride and Equality (SCOPE).
SCOPE officially transitioned into the Coalition in February 2019.
SCOPE had weekly meetings with less structured agendas and more hierarchy on the executive board before the transition, Lowe wrote. During the transition, the Coalition executive board was reduced down to a president, treasurer and committee chairs and there are now three meetings a month, each devoted to different issues: educational, social and community engagement, Lowe wrote.
"The new structure was created to give folks an option on what type of events and activities they wanted to participate in," Lowe said. "By far the greatest success I experienced in this leadership role was hosting the Queer Ally Workshop."
In the Queer Ally Workshop, held in March 2019, a panel of students, faculty and staff who identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community answered questions about the LGBTQ+ community and allyship that were pre-submitted online and asked in person.
The idea for the workshop came in response to multiple student organizations asking the Coalition to come to their organizations to talk about allyship, Lowe said.
"We had over 50 attendees and the energy in the room was just so incredible," Lowe said. "People were really engaged and it was really affirming for the purpose of the event to be fulfilled. Over and over again on the post-survey comments people said that they wanted the event to be longer. This really rocked me to my core — when has anyone ever wanted an educational event to be longer?"
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The Rev. Jamie Lynn Haskins, chaplain for spiritual life, is the Coalition's adviser and said it has been a privilege to work with Lowe.
"He has led the Coalition through important organizational change in both structure and mission while simultaneously offering members his care, love and support," she wrote. "His dedication to making both UR and our world a better place through significant social justice work is inspiring. The University of Richmond has been changed for the better by Jeff’s incredible contributions and we are lucky to call him a Spider."
In addition to his work with the Coalition, Lowe has worked as a CARE assistant.
"My job involves a lot of resource development and helping with events around violence prevention, boundary negation and safer sex practices," he said.
The Wellness Education Bandits is an organization of certified peer educators through Student Health that focuses on health promotion on campus, Lowe said.
"We can choose which or multiple sections to work on, such as general health, mental health, sexual health, and substance use," Lowe said. "I mostly do work on sexual health projects because that's what I'm passionate about."
Lowe's involvement with sexual health projects has included keeping the condom baskets on campus full, helping out with Pleasurefest and working the STI clinic that occurs every two months.
Lowe said his extracurricular involvement helped guide his career interests.
"Between my student org work with Coalition, working in the CARE and being a part of the Wellness Education Bandits, I have been directed towards a career in public health to focus on healthy relationships and sex education," Lowe said.
Aside from the logistical inconveniences of COVID-19, Lowe said it had been difficult not being able to give the campus a proper goodbye.
"It's definitely been hard on me because there are a lot of traditions and ceremonies that signal 'this is the end,' and without those events there's a kind of emptiness," he said. "I was really looking forward to the Westhampton dinner, Lavender Graduation and getting a hug from Dean Genoni before walking across the stage at graduation."
Even though Lowe will not be able to have a traditional graduation celebration, he said he and his friends were having a virtual graduation the morning of graduation and his family was having a cookout at night to commemorate the day.
"It's hard, but I'm trying to find ways to cope and celebrate this achievement nevertheless," he said.
This is the fourth installment of a four-part series to be published about graduating seniors.
Contact news writer Meredith Moran at firstname.lastname@example.org
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