Meet Royale Reeves, a student educator in the Gender and Sexuality Center’s Peers for Pride program. Since joining the GSC, Reeves has found their passion for helping people in a community counseling setting. We sat down with Reeves to learn more about their experiences here at UT Austin, and how they hope to empower students to make the Forty Acres safer, more inclusive and welcoming for all members of the campus community.
Conversation starters…While training for the Peers for Pride program, Reeves took classes in theater techniques and facilitation skills to learn how to expertly guide constructive conversations. With guidance from the GSC’s Director Dr. Liz Elsen and Education Program Coordinator Dr. Kristen Hogan, they gained confidence in their group leadership skills. “A lot of social justice centers can be intimidating if you’re not comfortable with your language and knowledge. Liz and Kristen are so good at making the GSC a learning space, guiding conversations and turning them into learning experiences.”
Acting out…Workshops include theatrical skits, in which Reeves and their co-facilitators act out biased incidents that are commonplace on college campuses. After the scene unfolds, Reeves opens up the floor to participants, allowing them to ask questions and share viewpoints. The learning experience, Reeves says, goes both ways. “We talk a lot about being present with people in the room and taking the time to hear them out. I’m less nervous when I get up there to talk to a group because I focus on listening and being present. This will really help me in my future career because I’ve gained a lot of practice thinking on my feet and being in a leadership position.”
Passing the mic…When topics turn to particularly sensitive areas that may be more relatable to another team member, Reeves checks in with their co-facilitators to best navigate a particular discussion. “We always have to think about ethics of representation. If something needs to be discussed in a workshop, we try to select the voices that need to be heard. We’re always making sure to talk to each other about what we need in that moment.”
Life after UT Austin…Now a senior majoring in psychology, Reeves is excited about taking these skills into graduate school, where they plan to pursue a degree in social work and eventually find meaningful work in group counseling. “The GSC entirely changed my college experience. I realized there’s so much I can do in a community-based center, and that this is an area of social work I really want to pursue.”
A word of advice…“When you’re at new student orientation, find a way to get involved. Throw your net far and wide and find your community.”
Interested in joining Peers for Pride or participating in a workshop? Visit this website for more details.