Thrive Photo

The Center for LGBTQIA+ Student Success takes around nine students yearly to the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Asexual College Conference.

Editor's Note: This story previously stated that the Thrive deadline had passed, this was incorrect information and this story has been updated. The Daily regrets this error.

Thrive, a program within Iowa State’s Center for LGBTQIA+ Student Success, exists to support student leaders who are members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

“Thrive really helps to assist to begin to build the foundation of leadership with a focus on LGBTQIA+ experiences,” said Brad Freihoefer, director of the Center for LGBTQIA+ Student Success.

Thrive is currently in its third year of existence, according to Freihoefer, who described it as a “longterm dream” of theirs that began upon their arrival at Iowa State in 2008.

Thrive consists of eight sessions, according to Freihoefer. During these sessions, Thrive members explore three main focus areas, which include themselves, the LGBTQIA+ community and their leadership skills.

“Students get to learn more about themselves as LGBTQIA+ people, they get to really get a better understanding of the diverse LGBTQIA+ community and they get to start building leadership skills, especially around dialogue and teamwork,” Freihoefer said.

Thrive members also attend an annual conference called the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Asexual College Conference (MBLGTACC). Freihoefer said “mumbletalk” is how the Thrive group pronounces it.

“The Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Asexual College Conference is an annual conference held to connect, educate and empower queer and trans+ college students, faculty and staff around the Midwest and beyond,” according to the MBLGTACC official website. 

A fun fact is also included on the site’s “History” page, which said MBLGTACC was first held at Iowa State in 1993.

Freihoefer described the event as somewhere between 80 and 120 workshop opportunities, two to four keynote speakers and opportunities to experience LGBTQIA+ culture through entertainment.

“For a lot of students, it’s just the incredible experience of being in a room with thousands of other LGBTQIA+ people, often for the first time in one’s life," Freihoefer said. "It’s a moment that kind of takes people’s breath away. Students get a lot of opportunities to experience LGBTQIA+ leadership through those keynote speakers and workshop presenters. They get a lot of information and knowledge and participation in the workshops, and they get to build community with other students from across the country. It’s really remarkable.”

Applications can be filled out on the Center for LGBTQIA+ Student Success website to join Thrive. The deadline for this year is Dec. 15 and students can apply online. Thrive and all of its activities, including attending the conference, is free for students.

“Thrive is deeply important,” Freihoefer said. “Where do you get an experience to really talk about experiences, see and connect with specifically leadership in a queer, trans, intersex, asexual framework? I don’t know of any specifically for that at Iowa State. This program really focuses on that; it gives students an ability to see what LGBTQIA+ leadership looks like. At ‘mumbletalk’ you get to see it. You’re seeing those people on stage, you’re seeing those folks in workshops and you’re getting to build on those skills through the Thrive experience.”

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