The Center for LGBTQIA+ Student Success hosted its annual fall kickoff event in the Memorial Union's Great Hall. 

“Included”- that’s what Colleen Luksetich, a junior in history education, said about how the Center for LGBTQIA+ Student Success welcome event made her feel.

“Happy” is the word that Haley Roach, a sophomore in architecture, used to describe how the event made her feel.

Gwen Froehlich, a freshman in bioinformatics and computational biology, said the welcome event made her feel validated.

These are only a few of the words used to describe the Center for LGBTQIA+ Student Success’ welcome event. Other words included safe, recognized and celebrated.

While she wasn’t sure how it would turn out, according to Cheltzie Miller-Bailey, the center's assistant director, the welcome event was a success.

“It is really awesome to see this many folks out here… literally watching the building of community brings so much joy to me, and that is what this event is meant to do,” Miller-Bailey said.

And that is what the event did. The Great Hall, decked out in colorful lights and banners, was constantly buzzing with music and conversations. From the photo booth to the snacks to the do-it-yourself identity flag keychain station, it was hard to find a person who wasn’t talking with someone else.

“I kind of like that there’s stuff you can do but there’s also just a space where you can sit around and talk,” said Kaitlyn McDaniel, a sophomore in animal science.

Miller-Bailey noted that she was most excited for students to have the opportunity to experience the LGBTQIA+ community at Iowa State together in person after last year being mostly virtual.

“Individually, folks have been having a tough time, and it’s a really hard experience to navigate college when part of being safe is also keeping your distance from others to an extent,” Miller-Bailey said. “ I was really excited for the opportunity for students to be back here, on campus, and then [be] able to share space with each other and get to build community for the first time in a long time and do that with folks they share identity with.”

According to Miller-Bailey, the mission of the Center for LGBTQIA+ Student Success is to create a more inclusive Iowa State.

“That is what we are here to do- to help create an atmosphere and an environment and an experience for students that is more inclusive- that is what we want to do as a department,” Miller-Bailey said.

Miller-Bailey said that events, such as the welcome event, are a crucial part of getting students connected and feeling like they have a community at Iowa State. Miller-Bailey then said the center would have an events calendar for September on their website soon.

In summary, according to Froehlich, the welcome event hosted by the Center for LGBTQIA+ Student Success left individuals feeling welcomed and worthy.

“[This event] means a lot to me because in my old school, we didn’t have any sort of place where we could meet other people from the community and even be recognized,” Froehlich said.

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