By Christopher Downs
Richard Moreno is a second-year graduate student pursuing his degree in higher education. In his position as a graduate assistant, he takes care of various programs and events within the Multicultural Programs and Services LGBTQA Initiatives on-campus such as World Aids day, National Coming Out Day, Transgender Awareness Week and Pride Month.
Moreno also serves as a graduate advisor for Stonewall Pride Alliance here at the Modesto Maidique campus where he meets with students on Friday’s from 2-3 p.m.
Moreno emphasized his duties in his role, explaining the different services and support he offers to students interested. He also gave an insight on a few community partners the MPAS LGBTQA Initiatives collaborate with and offer referral services to students on campus.
“If a student comes in, and we’ve had students come in (that are without housing) and if they come in asking for those resources, we will provide them with resources in the South Florida area that will best serve their needs,” said Moreno.
Moreno assures that he’s always looking to provide an LGBTQA perspective in programing, by inviting people, having their expertise and resources in combination with the initiative to create more intersectional events based on the needs of students.
From a personal perspective, Moreno highlighted the issue of violence against transgender community, specifically transgender women of color.
“There has been a lot concerning discourse against these women, their livelihood and the invalidations of their experiences,” said Moreno. “I feel as though that’s one thing that we need to emphasize, how to better support our transgender community.”
Moreno said that FIU will host a “Transgender Day of Remembrance,” where they will honor and remember the lives lost within the transgender community. The event will take place on Nov. 15 in the GC pit from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
As advocate for the LGBTQA community, Moreno expressed how his role at FIU has motivated him use platform to support and execute the needs of students seeking help.
“When I was a sophomore for my undergraduate, I volunteered at my LGBTQA Center and then I received a student programming position and continued that through my senior year,” said Moreno. “That’s how I developed my passion for working specifically with LGBTQA students.”
In addition to providing a platform and voice for students, Moreno also said that this role allowed him to be authentically himself and develop professional leadership skills within that safe space.
“What drives me is the knowledge of issues and the lack of coverage and awareness,” said Moreno. “I find it in myself to come to work every day and strive educate people on these issues while providing students that work with us the resources, education and development that they need.”
Moreno also gave some advice to students struggling with their identity, assuring them that there are resources available to them. Offered at the MPAS office, Moreno spoke about a new mentor program created for students to connect with faculty at FIU, adding that it will bridge relationships with students and faculty.
“Not only do we support queer students, but we also support questioning students as well,” said Moreno. “This is an invaluable resource, to help that student along their journey here at FIU. It affirms them with social capital, and just to have someone to talk to who’s gone through those similar struggles.”