2014 V&A Award Recipients


Congratulations to the recipients of the Campus Pride 2014 National Voice and Action Student Leadership Awards. Campus Pride selected three winners this year for the three different student awards — Voice & Action National Student Leader Award, Voice & Action National Fraternity/Sorority Award, and Voice & Action National Athlete Award.  These distinctions honor student leaders across the nation who use their “voice” and “action” to create change and build safer LGBT colleges and universities.

The 2014 Campus Pride Voice & Action Student Leader Award is awarded to Nick Hamblin of Colorado School of Mines.

The 2014 inaugural Campus Pride Voice & Action Fraternity and Sorority Award is awarded to Stephanie Rodriguez of University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh.

The 2014 inaugural Campus Pride Voice & Action Athlete Award is awarded to Toni Kokenis of Stanford University.

The 2014 Campus Pride Voice & Action Advisor Leader Award is awarded to Jonathan Pryor of University of Missouri – Kansas City.

 2014 Campus Pride Student Leader Voice & Action Leadership Award

nickhamblinNick Hamblin

Colorado School of Mines

Class of 2015

Program of Study:  Geological Engineering, Exploration Specialty

Intended Profession: Professor

“When I found out I was a recipient of this year’s Voice and Action Award, I felt very honored and proud to be included among such incredible leaders. I am grateful that my work is being recognized. I feel like much of the work I do is very “behind the scenes”, working directly with administration and staff for long term changes that will benefit many students, but this work is not always easily visible. Receiving this honor has helped remind me of the importance of my campus efforts. My goal has always been to leave my campus in a better place for LGBTQIA Students, and I am honored to be receiving this recognition for my efforts towards that goal.” –Nick Hamblin
Nick has been extremely active on his campus, taking a leadership role in discussing LGBTQ issues. He leads Sigma Lambda, the LGBTQ organization at Colorado School of Mines, is active as a Safe Space campus educator, founded the LGBTQ peer mentoring program, and serves as the student liaison for LGBTQ students to the Colorado School of Mines Campus Police. Nick lives his life passionately, standing up for the things in which he believes. He advocates beautifully for recognition for trans* students at CSM, choosing to publicly speak out about his own identity in order to inspire progress at his institution. We, at Campus Pride, admire Nick’s courage and dedication to progress for LGBTQ people on his campus and beyond.

Nick’s commitment is one of the reasons Campus Pride is so honored to be able to present the Voice & Action Award to him! In addition to his commitment, Nick understands the challenges facing the LGBTQ community and explained them eloquently in his application:

“As we work towards equality, educating others about the LGBT community is a challenge we must face. Education often creates allies and helps people use the proper terminology when discussing the LGBT community. However, it is not always easy to outreach and educate people, because those who usually need it the most are often the least receptive to being educated. Without proper education, creating inclusive laws and policies and increasing community support are difficult tasks, so it is very important that LGBT people and their allies work towards educating everyone about sexuality and gender expression and teaching others how to be allies.
The institutionalization of acceptance, or creating laws and policies that promote equality and acceptance is probably the largest challenge facing the LGBT community. Although it is difficult, it is essential that we create policies of equality. Whether that is working towards gay marriage, an employee non-discrimination act that includes sexuality and gender identity, or safe bathroom policies for trans* individuals, these policies are necessary for the LGBT community. Creating these requires the constant efforts of LGBT people and their allies to promote an increased awareness of these issues. It requires LGBT people and their allies to show a need for these policies, and to raise community support for these policies. Creating inclusive laws and policies takes a long time, and can be very difficult work, which is why it is one of the primary challenges the LGBT community faces.”

We praise Nick’s thoughtfulness and agree that we as leaders need to contemplate how we educate others and the importance of legislation for the safety and affirmation of LGBTQ people.

As part of the application we ask the applicants to have letters of recommendation written on their behalf. One of these letters was to be from a fellow student leader. Jonathan Pritchard, a fellow student at Colorado School of Mines wrote; “In all, Nick’s leadership and vocal representation of his rights has been a positive force throughout our campus. In my mind, I cannot name anyone more deserving of recognition for positive, vocal leadership than him..”

In addition to the student leader letter, we asked for a letter of reference from faculty and staff. Jen Schneider, Associate Professor in Liberal Arts and International Studies, wrote; “All that has changed, dramatically, thanks to a handful of dedicated students and administrators. And I think things have changed the most thanks to Nick Hamblin. Nick has worked tirelessly to organize his fellow students to host Pride and other social events on campus; to provide one-on-one counseling with GLBT students; to change policies on campus so that they better support transgender students; and to grow the membership of Sigma Lambda to well over 50 members…We still have a long way to go at CSM. But the roads toward progress have been mapped out, thanks to students like Nick.”

The Voice & Action Selection Committee also had words of praise for Nick: “impressed by his pioneering spirit and willingness to stand up and stand out in such a conservative environment,” and “admirable and empowering!”
Campus Pride is proud to be able to recognize Nick Hamblin as the 2014 Campus Pride Student Leader Voice & Action Leadership Award recipient.


2014 Campus Pride Voice & Action Fraternity and Sorority Award

Stephanie Rodriguez

University of Wisconsin Oshkosh

Class of 2014

Program of Study:  Human Services

Intended Profession: Student Affairs

Stephanie is a true testament of the importance of personal growth in leadership. She is a dedicated student leader on her campus working to achieve greater equality and inclusion within all areas of her campus, but especially Greek life. She has worked in programming for the Rainbow Alliance for HOPE, the LGBTQ organization at UW Oshkosh, served as the VP of programming for the Order of Omega, a prestigious Greek organization, is deeply involved with her sorority, Gamma Phi Beta, and has volunteered extensively throughout her collegiate career. Stephanie has continually pushed for more conversation around LGBTQ issues within Greek organizations, single handedly recruiting Panhellenic organizations to become safe zone trained. She is deeply committed to continuing the improvement of the climate within Greek organizations for LGBTQ people. Above all, Stephanie encourages others to examine their values and passions by inviting them into her growth process as a leader and as a person.

Stephanie’s dedication and continuing growth are just a couple of the reasons Campus Pride is excited  to be able to present the inaugural Voice & Action Fraternity and Sorority Award to her! In addition to leading passionately, Stephanie highlights one of the challenges facing LGBTQ people: a lack of education and awareness and what LGBTQ people and allies can do to combat this:

“I think part of the responsibility lies in the hands of LGBT persons and their allies to do this education. Education starts with you; you need to be educated before trying to educate someone else. This is such an easy thing to do, especially with today’s technology. There are online forums for just about anything and doing a quick Google search can lead you to a plethora of resources. There are always those identities that fly under the radar but having a general understanding is a good start. In education other people, I think it is far easier said than done. The important thing is to steer them in the right direction. You can leave yourself available for questions or to simply talk and share your knowledge. You can also refer them to books or websites that can be particularly helpful. In my education of transgender issues, a good friend lent me a book that I ended up taking notes from to keep for future reference. While this one book isn’t the end all be all of my education on transgender issues, it is a start. If someone is unwilling to be educated, mention a few resources that were helpful to put the idea in their head. If they ever find that they’re ready to be educated, they will at least have a starting point.”

We applaud Stephanie for her insightful comments! She implores us to think about our responsibilities as leaders for the education of our communities, and how each of us can make a difference with simple, thoughtful actions.

As part of the application we ask the applicants to have letters of recommendation written on their behalf. One of these letters was to be from a student leader. Tyler Volkert, a fellow student at UW Oshkosh wrote; “After coming to terms with her sexuality and coming out to her family, sorority sisters, and friends, Stephanie is a constant example of what personal growth and strength looks like. She has been an ongoing driving force as an example of what it means to be a leader, a friend, a colleague, and an active student. She has taken numerous positions and constantly aims to better her skills as well as those of the people around her. She pushes herself to her limits, and then pushes past them every single time with everything she does. She authentically shows that nothing is impossible when you are passionate and dedicated about something.”
In addition to the student leader letter, we asked for a letter of reference from faculty and staff. Randy Hedge, the director of Reeve Memorial Union at UW Oshkosh said: “In the area of social justice and activism, Stephanie rises to the top of my list of students on campus. She is passionate about the issues and struggles of the LGBTQ community, and exhibits this through her leadership. H.O.P.E. meetings. She also volunteers to make presentations to the Greek community, including serving to educate members on the needs of minority populations and actively promotes the inclusion of these students. Stephanie not only is passionate, she lives her passion!”
The Voice & Action Selection Committee also had words of excitement about Stephanie: “doing great work with Greek life!,” and “such a tremendous demonstration of growth!”
Campus Pride is proud to be able to recognize Stephanie Rodriguez as the 2014 Campus Pride Voice & Action Fraternity and Sorority Award recipient.


2014 Campus Pride Voice & Action Athlete Award

Toni Kokenis

Stanford University

Class of 2014

Program of Study:  Double Major: Human Biology and Sociology. Honors thesis in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Intended Profession: Working as an attorney/ advocate for non-profit regarding  LGBTQ or gender issues

Toni has been a force to be reckoned with at Stanford! As an athlete, Toni consistently speaks up for greater equality for LGBTQ people within the realm of sports, and also outside of it. Toni helped found Stanford Allies and Athletes Together (StAAT), an organization specifically working to increase education and awareness within varsity and club athletics at Stanford. Though initially challenging, Toni’s efforts eventually paid off with the introduction of Stanford’s You Can Play video and a burgeoning partnership with the athletic department. Toni also works with GO! Athletes as a College Ambassador, sits on panels regarding LGBTQ issues, served as a researcher with the Clayman Institute for Gender Research, and is active with the Stanford Community Action Board, all the while spending most of her collegiate career as a member of the women’s basketball team for the Stanford Cardinal. She’s passionate and courageous, choosing to take on some of the more difficult conversations for the LGBTQ community: the climate in athletics.

Toni’s passion is one of the reasons Campus Pride is so honored to be able to present the Voice & Action Athlete Award to her! In addition to leading passionately, Toni understands the challenges facing the LGBTQ community, explaining them thoughtfully in her application:
“In the fight to achieve greater justice, fairness, and equality, the greatest challenge LGBTQ people and allies face is the overwhelming silence in any conversation about sexuality. This silence extends primarily from a lack of education and awareness. In order to help others feel more comfortable with all sexual orientations and gender identities, we need to begin to spark conversations so that all non-conforming sexual orientations and gender identities can be accepted in the public eye. In order to do this, diversity and inclusion training must be more widely available. Health classes, for instances, could include a section about sexual orientation and gender identities in order to encourage students to address a potentially uncomfortable topic.

While society as a whole has made vast strides in their acceptance of gay issues, sports still lag far behind because of the pervasive culture of silence affecting most sports. The gender stereotypes associated with each sport foster a hetero-normative environment making it difficult for athletes to come out for fear of conforming to the stereotype of their sport or going against the norm. In order to combat this silence, more athletes need to speak up as strong allies to foster a team environment that accepts everyone regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. Voices of LGBTQ athletes are important, but it should not be their job alone to create a safe space within their own teams. Everyone, coaches and athletes alike, need to speak up in order to combat the silence. Silence is not acceptance, and until sexual orientation is talked openly about, until it becomes a non-issue, LGBTQ athletes and allies will need to stand up and speak out to educate the community and spread awareness through the strength of their stories.”

We praise Toni’s thoughtfulness and agree that silence is a hurdle to the conversation about LGBTQ inclusion and acceptance within the world of athletics.

As part of the application we ask the applicants to have letters of recommendation written on their behalf. One of these letters was to be from a fellow student leader. Holly Fetter, a fellow student at Stanford  wrote; “Toni has undoubtedly transformed the LGBTQ, athletic, and larger Stanford communities through her unparalleled vision, leadership, and persistence. These same skills that awarded her recognition on the basketball court have led to her ability to enhance the experience of LGBTQ athletes at Stanford. While many students would have given up after encountering opposition from the Athletics Department, Toni refused to back down. And her tenacity certainly paid off. She is also so fun and humble — a natural leader both on and off the court, her peers are excited to be around her and to follow her example. Her bravery and confidence have inspired allied and LGBTQ athletes to be unapologetically proud of their identities. A true team player and leader, Toni Kokenis has led her fellow students to create a more inclusive and loving campus community.”
In addition to the student leader letter, we asked for a letter of reference from faculty and staff Lindsay Shaffer, an academic advisor wrote; “Toni is a selfless activist, and one of the most motivated people to create change that I have known, especially at her age. Toni does not focus on her personal struggles, or simply talk about change, she creates positive change for the greater good. Toni’s exceptional persistence, ability to bring people together, and courage to have uncomfortable conversations with athletic department leadership, coaches, and student-athletes are what make Toni a truly special leader…I worked with close to 1,000 student-athletes in my time at Stanford; Toni Kokenis is one of the most impressive and inspirational student-athletes I had the pleasure of working with.”
The Voice & Action Selection Committee also praised Toni : “so inspirational!,”  “such a courageous leader who has made meaningful change,” and “awe-inspiring”.

Campus Pride is proud to be able to recognize Toni Kokenis as the 2014 Campus Pride Voice & Action Athlete Award recipient.


2014 Campus Pride Voice & Action Advisor Award

Jonathan Pryor

University of Missouri – Kansas City
Coordinator, LGBTQIA Programs & Services

“I’m incredibly humbled and honored to be selected for this award from Campus Pride.  Our work at UMKC is accomplished with the support and extraordinary efforts of our LGBTQIA students (who just hosted MBLGTACC 2014!), a supportive Division in Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, and a campus with true commitment to inclusive standards for our LGBTQIA community.  To me this award recognizes the efforts on our campus to challenge cis-sexism and heteronormativity, while understanding we still have work to accomplish. Thank you for this incredible honor, this award will be a great reminder for our community to continue to strive for excellence in our practices of inclusion on our campus and in our Kansas City community.” ~Jonathan Pryor

Jonathan is the Coordinator of LGBTQIA Programs & Services at the University of Missouri – Kansas City, a position he has held since 2012. He received his Masters of Education in Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis from the University of Missouri in 2011, and is a current Ph.D student within the same program. Roze Brooks, Conference Chair of the 2014 Midwest BLGTA College Conference writes, “In his role as adviser of Pride Alliance, Pryor has worked to strengthen the core of the executive board with team building and continued support for new ideas and programming. Pryor has successfully worked with the team to acknowledge each other’s’ strengths and assist each other in becoming better leaders.  His life’s mantra “be the best you that you can be” resonates with each student Pryor has worked with throughout his short time at UMKC.”

We at Campus Pride applaud Jonathan’s efforts in empowering students to create change at UMKC. His presence is a gift to the students and other members of UMKC community.

As part of the application we asked each nominee to develop a platform they would champion over the next year. Below is Jonathan’s platform:

I’ve been in my position at the University of Missouri-Kansas City for a year and a half and I have been involved with LGBTQIA education, advocacy, and programming at college campuses for nearly 10 years.  Campus climate has shifted dramatically, even in a decade, but there is much progress that must be made.  My research interests have focused on the experience of LGBTQIA college students, particularly for trans* identified students in areas of the classroom and residence life.  In order to enhance the utility of the extant scholarship focusing on LGBTQIA students–works like those of Beemyn, Rankin, Renn, or Sanlo (to name only a few)– educators must place our energies on initiatives that take this scholarship and others’ work and place them into practice.  It has been my effort at UMKC to fuse policy change, programming, and advising, to enhance the campus climate on all fronts.  Most presently, focusing on policies of inclusion for our trans* community, but also ensuring the educational component of purposeful and outcome based training is accessible.  The topic I would hope to pursue with Campus Pride is to work towards an outreach strategy with other institutions that establish a curriculum for Safe Space Trainings and Campus Action Plans on a policy level.

My professional experience has provided me the insight that our education efforts must reach individuals who have the slightest connection or understanding of the LGBTQIA community.  For if we are to truly establish safe spaces on campus, we must forge beyond borders of difficult conversation, and create a space of learning that welcomes those with little tolerance or knowledge of who our community represents.  I am not unaware of the reality that some individuals at all areas of a university or college campus have no interest in evolving their understanding of the LGBTQIA community, but I do believe if we equip our faculty, staff, administrators, and students with the right tools, incidents in the classroom, in the residence halls, and all others areas on campus, can be mitigated.  As my experience with the nursing faculty in my previous essay demonstrated, once the possibility is created, faculty may take the step to change the perspective of an entire classroom.  Thus, establishing a curriculum, accessible to educators at campuses across the United States should be an imperative. If advisors are to holistically support our students, we must take action in areas of education and policy.

At UMKC, my efforts with redesigning our Safe Space program began by reaching out to other campuses for how they designed their programs, building relationships with other educators who found themselves in similar situations.  I began by creating a curriculum and rubric for future coordinators to follow when my time to move on has come.  On a policy front, I found great direction from the work of Campus Pride and the Campus Pride Index.  This has been an invaluable tool for our campus (and others) to see where areas of improvement lie and how we can strive to most effectively support our students through facilities/space, programming, and policies.  Yet, how can we establish tools and guidance for policy reformation beyond the scope of message boards and listserv requests?

My work with Campus Pride will utilize resources from experts to formulate expected goals and outcomes from Safe Space programs, relevant to higher education institutions and practitioners.  These programs will be designed around accessible formats that engage each respective campus community to encourage and inspire allyship and true support for the LGBTQIA community.  Further, the Campus Action Plan will establish a rubric for how campuses might implement specific policies as outlined in the Campus Pride Index.  This action plan will have to be intentional, and understand the limitations of institutional type, politics, and governance.  However, in working together, we can assist our colleagues across the states to dramatically change the numbers of institutions we see on the Campus Pride Trans Policy Clearinghouse page.

Campus Pride has had a profound impact on the work higher education professionals pursue and how colleges and universities approach their support for LGBTQIA students.  As an advisor and a coordinator for LGBTQIA Programs, it is this growth that contributes to the betterment of campus climates for our students today.  Ultimately, our goal is to provide support for our students and establish safe spaces on our campuses—a space where students can exist freely and authentically, without repercussion for who they are or how they identify.  I think our next step is to create a shared structure for these efforts, to reach even the most unattainable institutions, and support our colleagues in making Safe Space programs and Campus Action Plans a reality across the United States.”

Campus Pride looks forward to work with Jonathan over this next year as we support him in championing LGBT issues for his campus.  The Voice & Action National Advisor Award is an honor in collaboration with ACPA-College Student Educators International.