A public health graduate student and a second-year medical student were honored recently by the University of Cincinnati (UC) LGBTQ Center for their efforts aimed at building community ties and improving the health of the LGBTQ community at the university and beyond.
Ryan Anderson, a 2019 graduate of the master’s in public health program, and Haidn Foster, a medical student finishing his second year, received the LGBTQ Bridge Builder Award, and the LGBTQ Student Activist Award, respectively, during the Lavender Graduation Ceremony held April 25.
The LGBTQ Bridge Builder Award celebrates any UC student or organization for excellence and commitment in building connections between the LGBTQ community and broader student life at UC. The LGBTQ Student Activist Award recognizes any UC student for excellence in leadership or service to the LGBTQ community at UC. Both honors reflect a commitment to diversity and inclusion and the urban impact platform of UC’s strategic direction, Next Lives Here.
Anderson: Educating and social norming
Anderson, a former graduate student worker in the UC Student Wellness Center, was nominated for the award by Lori Bishop-Ley, his former boss and assistant director of the Student Wellness Center. She says she was impressed by Anderson’s work implementing programs across the campus that tackle sexual health, gender-based violence and alcohol, tobacco and drug education along with mental health.
Anderson, who majored in gender studies and film at Miami University, spearheaded a new social norming campaign at UC funded by the Ohio Department of Higher Education. The campaign focused on bystander intervention and ways to prevent sexual violence and was titled “Togetherto100UC.”
“On social media Ryan created posts that encouraged students to be more active bystanders when they see or hear acts of gender-based violence,” says Bishop-Ley. “Ryan would highlight different situations on campus where students could interrupt problematic or violent behaviors. He then would offer different ways one could safely respond if they saw that situation.”
Anderson created inclusive marketing materials such as flyers and newsletters to encourage students to understand potentially problematic situations with a new perspective, explains Bishop-Ley. Assessment tools he developed for this project also will help inform future campaigns.
Bishop-Ley says Anderson helped organize monthly HIV testing services for the Student Wellness Center and worked closely with Caracole, a longtime partner of the center and Greater Cincinnati’s non-profit AIDS service organization. He educated students waiting for HIV testing about the test itself and offered information about other sexually transmitted infections and discussed safer sexual health practices, explains Bishop-Ley.
Anderson was a Pride Ambassador with the UC LGBTQ Center and this role allowed him to align his values with his passion and build meaningful connections with LGBTQ students, explains Bishop-Ley.
“The Wellness Center gave me so many opportunities and put a lot of trust in me,” says Anderson. “During my third week I was teaching alone for our sanction classes for alcohol and drugs. I really appreciated that they had that much trust in me.”
Anderson hopes that as a recent graduate he can continue his work advancing HIV and sexually transmitted infection prevention and has his sights on a fellowship with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the National Institutes of Health.
“There are so many students doing powerful work all over campus so to be selected for such a great award was really amazing,” says Anderson.