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Student profile: Colin Gill

Major:  Gender, Women, & Sexuality Studies
Previous institution: Seattle Central College
Year/qtr transferred: Autumn 2015
Hometown: Bellevue, WA 

Did you work before going back to school? Yes 

Are you a veteran or military personnel? No

Favorite quote: "I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me, too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you." —Frida Kahlo

What would you like to share about yourself: My academic career has been anything but conventional.  When I graduated from high school I was adamant that I would not go to college—much to my mother’s dismay. Why? Because I wanted to party and make up for “lost time” of the partying I did not do in high school. I spent the next two years after high school living out on my own, moshing at punk rock shows with my friends, staying up until sunrise, and working several jobs to support myself. It was during those two years that I did a lot of soul searching and came out of the closet to my friends and family. Coming out as queer and as trans, gender non-conforming lifted a weight off my shoulders and I felt as though I could exist authentically. Yet, at the same time, I felt confused as to what this meant for my identity. I often would ask myself, “Am I still the same person?” 

After partying for a couple years I knew I needed something to ground me and gain a direction in my life. So, I decided to attend Pima Medical Institute and become a Medical Assistant. I come from a family that works in the medical field and thought this could provide me with some stability and higher income. Upon completing the program and internship, I got hired at UW Medicine, where I worked for three years in family medicine. During my time as a medical assistant I grew a lot as a person and gained a sense of purpose in my life. Additionally, I gained experience in the medical field and for a while dabbled with the idea of going to medical school. However, after my experience of working in a clinic I realized that my passion was no longer in this field.  I decided to return to school and began taking classes at Seattle Central College and discovered my passion was within the social sciences. After completing my AA at Seattle Central I applied for several colleges in state and due to my past negative experiences with school I didn’t think I would get into UW. Then one day, it came…I was studying abroad in Argentina and received a skype call from my mother that a letter came in the mail granting my admission to UW. I was in shock. How did I, the person who almost failed out of high school get into this prestigious school? I had waves of emotions and fear that it was a lie or a dream. 

My first quarter at UW was exciting because I was at this well-known university. But it was also shocking and stressful because I left the security net of my smaller community college where I knew a lot of people and where everything was located. Also, I felt self-conscious being a little older than a majority of other undergrads. Nonetheless, I hit the ground running with classes, I signed up for sociology and GWSS (Gender, Women, & Sexuality) courses. I discovered my academic and personal passions are within GWSS because of the ways gender, class, race, and ability effects so many facets of our lives—both on the personal level and institutional level. I am going to pursue graduate studies in the field of sociology and gender, so the GWSS program and Sociology course at UW have provided me a foundation for future study in this field.

A few words of advice to anyone transferring to UW from a smaller school or community college are: 1) be gentle on yourself.  Adjusting to a large university is a lot to take in. 2) You will be lost on campus, a lot. It’s huge! I suggest downloading an app called “Campus Maps." Also, don’t be afraid to ask directions. I still do. 3) Look at as many courses as possible when searching on “My Plan.” I understand that as a transfer student you may be limited on time, but find at least one that looks interesting and sparks your curiosity. Also, sometimes courses will cross over to multiple departments. For example, I took a Black Cultural Studies course that was a Communication course but crossed over as a GWSS course that counts towards my major requirements. Also, if you have the chance take Black Cultural Studies it is a great class! 4) Explore the campus and the activities going on. There’s a lot! Look at fliers on bulletin boards. 5) Café Allegro is a really good café near campus, it is Seattle’s “Original Espresso” bar. It’s a really great place to read and study. They also have really good coffee and burritos for lunch. 6) Have fun! It’s a new chapter and it can be scary, but it can also be an opportunity to grow and learn. 

I wish you the best of luck on your transfer!