Doing the work of her heart
LGBT Resource Center director helps students explore their identity.
FFor Meg Evans, it's personal. When she started her collegiate career, there was no place for her, someone who identifies as queer and gender non-conforming, on campus.
“I didn’t have that support that I needed,” she said. “I didn’t have anybody that I could talk to.”
Now as director of the on-campus LGBT Resource Center, she wants to ensure that no UGA student ever feels the same way.
“This is not a 9-to-5 job for me; this is a 24/7 thing for me that I care deeply about,” she said. “If in any way I can help somebody explore their identity, that’s what I want to do.”
Evans began in higher education at Warren Wilson College, in Swannanoa, North Carolina, where she was earning a degree in outdoor leadership. It was there she took a position as a student resident director, supervising four resident assistants and a residence hall. After she received her degree, she became interim housing coordinator. During both positions, she worked advising LGBT student groups.
“I was really excited to work with college students,” she said. “Being able to listen to stories and share my experience with them, I loved it.”
In her role as director of UGA’s LGBT Resource Center, Evans does a lot of listening and sharing stories. Since she started in early August, she has been “engaging in conversations about how we can make UGA more affirming and welcoming for LGBT and trans-identified folks on campus.”
Her role, Evans said, is to do big-picture visioning, figuring out how the LGBT Resource Center fits in to the fabric of the university and how it can help move UGA forward in terms of supporting its students with their identities.
“My hope is that we can have a voice—and we do—and figure out how we can collaborate better to meet the intersectionality (the understanding of the complex and multi-dimensional nature of people) of our students,” Evans said. “With us being a two-person office, collaboration is key.”
Evans’ position also allows her to “make sure the queer voice is represented” in committees or places around campus. She also advises the LGBT graduate student group, handles administrative details for the center, gives presentations and training workshops, and helps students, faculty and staff as needed.
Coming from Carnegie Mellon University, where she was LGBTQ resources coordinator and housefellow, Evans said that UGA had a lot of appeal for her.
“I was excited knowing that there’s a lot of really incredible people here who want the work to be done,” she said, “and throughout my interview process, I really saw a spirit of intersectionality.
“I saw a spirit of inclusion here that is unlike what I’ve seen at a lot of other institutions. It’s a spirit of inclusion I don’t think people necessarily think of when they talk about a state school in the Southeast,” Evans also said. “I wanted to be a part of that act of changing how people here think about LGBT folks and also about how people might see us, the university.”
Outside of work, Evans and her fiancee, Kadesha, enjoy sports and the outdoors. The pair has a passion for geocaching, an activity in which one uses GPS to hide and find containers in outdoor spaces.
“The fact that someone can come in here and feel comfortable enough, safe enough and let me share in that experience with them, that to me is a total privilege that I am deeply honored by.”
“It’s a nerdy pastime that’s like adult treasure hunting,” Evans said. “It’s great because we get to be outside, we get to hang out with our dogs, we all get exercise, it’s free and it allows us to explore places that we’ve never seen.”
Similar to her work at the LGBT Resource Center, Evans said the activity allows her to “see the world through other people’s eyes.”
Evans takes that responsibility of empathizing with others and hearing their stories very seriously. She’s always willing to have a conversation with any campus community member about anything related to LGBT issues or identities.
“It’s taxing hearing people’s stories and constantly holding those personal stories for folks, but I also absolutely see it as a privilege,” Evans said. “The fact that someone can come in here and feel comfortable enough, safe enough and let me share in that experience with them, that to me is a total privilege that I am deeply honored by.
“Some days are hard, and some days are amazing, and some days are some days,” she also said. “But, by and large, the fact that I get to show up to work every day and do the work of my heart, I can’t really beat that.”
— Matt Chambers, News Service