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LGBTQA Mentor Bios

Rachel Hager

Hi everyone, my name is Rachel! I am a third-year PhD student in ecology at USU with passions for wetlands, diversity, and science communication. I moved to Logan after graduating from an all-woman's college on the East Coast. I proudly identify as a lesbian. My coming out story has been a roller coaster of ups and downs. Although I knew I was queer for years, I did not come out to my mother until I was financially independent. Surrounding myself with people who love and respect me for who I am has helped me become the strong and independent person I am today. Please feel free to message me with any questions or if you just want to talk and need a friend!

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Nadya Keweshan

I’m a 32 year old transgender woman working on my doctorate here at USU. I’m actually from New Jersey so living in Utah was a bit of a change for me. I’ve been here since 2012 but only just recently came out to my home department in biology as well as the students I teach. I am married to a cisgendered woman and she has helped me along my journey. When I first started exploring my gender identity, I thought for sure that I was the only one to question it. I soon learned that there are plenty of us out here even in this part of the country. I thought if I came out that no one I cared for would love me for who I was but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Life as a transperson can be difficult for sure but I am here to tell you that you are not alone. When you have a good support group, it is amazing what you can accomplish in your goal to live authentically. I am grateful to the people in my support network and would love to help or listen to a transperson struggling with who they are. I’m kind of a big dork so if you are into nerdy things, we’ll probably get along very well. I hope to hear from you soon! *hugs*

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Todd Speckhard

Hello! Hello!

My name is Todd Speckhard, and I am a junior at Utah State University. I am from Provo, Utah, and grew up in a “Big 'ol Mormon family.” I identify as a proud gay male. When people ask me to describe myself, I always have the same two responses. First, I have ever-changing hobbies and no displayable talents. Second, I am a potato in a crop top.

I am a student in business with a passion for servant leadership, philanthropy, and authentic social interactions. I have been very fortunate with the opportunity to live in China. Additionally, I’ve performed service in Haiti, the United Kingdom, and various parts of the globe. I have an introductory-level understanding of Chinese, Spanish, and American Sign Language. If you consider yourself to be driven, passionate, or a leader, we will have loads to talk about.

When I was younger, I bounced around from school to school and never seemed to make genuine connections with people. I know how difficult it is to feel unwanted, and my goal as a mentor is to help any student who is seeking a friend, feel validated, special, and needed through friendship and involvement. Although I no longer associate with an organized religion, I have nothing against anyone who is seeking a religious lifestyle. I truly believe everyone in this world is simply trying to be happy. My mom is the second funniest person I know, myself being the first. So, if you are looking for a quick laugh, someone to vent with, or anything in-between, feel free to send me a message. Cheers!

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Kaylee Litson

Hi! My name is Kaylee Litson, I am 24 years old, and I am a PhD student in the psychology department at USU. I grew up in St. George, UT, and I came to USU four years ago to study quantitative psychology. I always feel awkward writing bios about myself, so bear with me.

First things first, I proudly identify as a lesbian woman. I knew I was attracted to women around age 15, but it took me until 19 before I came out to myself, then to my friends, and finally my family. When I came out to my mom two years ago, it was a life-changing moment, and one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, mostly because I was afraid of how she would respond. We have continued to stay close, and even though we sometimes disagree, we both love each other. For the most part, my family has been accepting of me, and my friends have been my support network. Without my friends, I would not be the strong, confident woman I am today.

At heart, I am a researcher, and I love my work. Even more, I love talking about my work, so if you ever want to have a multi-hour long discussion about statistics and measurement theory, let me know... Joking aside, I love talking about the things I’m passionate about and I love listening to someone when they talk about their passions. Hobbies of mine include playing piano, cooking, game nights, having philosophical or political discussions over coffee, writing, and photography. I also love meeting new people and listening to life stories. So if you are looking for a friend, have any questions about me, or simply want to grab coffee and chat about life, let me know! I hope to hear from you soon!

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Jared Gheen

Hey all!
My name is Jared Gheen and I am currently a Jr. majoring in English Professional and Technical Writing with minors in MIS and Business Administration. If you aren't sure what professional and technical writing is, it's basically working with engineers and scientists so normal people can understand what they're talking about.

A little bit about me – I'm from a tiny town most of you don't know exists: Genola, UT. I have 7 siblings (5 brothers and 2 sisters). I grew up in an LDS household but have since had my records removed in order to be at peace with myself; I would also like to note that I support all my friends in their religious endeavors and I harbor no ill-feelings towards any particular religion. I am 20 years old and came out to my family only a year ago, so I understand the struggles associated with coming out to friends and family who are more conservative, especially within the religious culture. On that note, I identify as a gay, cisgender male. Since my coming out, I have delved into the community to be as active as possible.

As a mentor, I hope to provide some real-world advice and a vast knowledge on what doesn't work well (because I make a lot of mistakes). I have a healthy obsession with sharks, love creative writing (despite what my major may imply), enjoy attending plays and musicals, like playing board/card/video games, and appreciate the opportunity to meet new people and try different things. If you have any questions, need someone to vent to, or simply want a friend who can understand and empathize, feel free to reach out! I'm looking forward to getting to know you!

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