NIU Prism, Career Services to hold first LGBTQ alumni panel

By Lauren Dielman

Those attending NIU’s first Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) Alumni Panel will hear personal stories from when the panelists were students at NIU and what their lives are like now.

The panel will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday in the Holmes Student Center Diversions Lounge. Prism and Career Services are co-sponsoring the event.

Alumni, current teachers, professors and counselors who work at NIU will speak on the panel.

“It’s individual stories of when they were students here and whether they’re out or whether they’re not out at work and how that affects them,” said Patricia Liberty-Baczek, administrative assistant for the LGBT Resource Center.

Molly Holmes, director of the LGBT Resource Center, said attendees will learn about LGBTQ life at NIU in the past and how it has changed, what life is like after graduation and what experiences at NIU can help in a future career.

Holmes said one of the reasons why this panel was created is to offer students the chance to hear directly from alumni.

“We wanted to give alumni an opportunity to get reconnected to NIU and allow current students to learn from alumni’s experience,” Holmes said.

Danielle Simmons, a psychologist at the Counseling and Student Development Center, said she looks forward to participating.

“I plan to share openly about my identity-related issues and the impacts this had on my relationships with others and my own mental health,” Simmons said. “I hope to offer support to students.”

Before becoming a psychologist, Simmons was a student at NIU and had internal struggles related to her sexual identity.

“I would like for current students to hear my story to offer an example of someone who found happiness after years of struggle and turmoil,” Simmons said.