By Sydney Collins, ‘20

Miranda Rosenblum, ‘18, attributes their ability to come out due to their participation in the University of Richmond’s WILL* program.

“The first year of college, I realized I was queer and didn’t say anything and it was only until that summer that I felt comfortable coming out to my parents and my brother and friends from home and from here,” Rosenblum said. “The WILL* program and my WGSS minor really helped me find the language to articulate what it means to be a queer, non-binary transgender person.”

Rosenblum’s revelation led them to learn more about the lack of nondiscrimination laws in the nation and began to recognize what life for a queer person was like in the United States. Rosenblum said that it was a wake-up call upon learning that they could be fired, denied housing, or kicked out of housing for being open about their gender identity. This sparked Rosenblum’s interest in LGBTQ advocacy.

Last summer, Rosenblum received the opportunity to combine their knowledge of American social movements from their American Studies major and their passion for LGBTQ advocacy to pursue an internship at Equality Virginia, a nonpartisan organization focused on seeking equality for LGBTQ Virginians. Rosenblum received the Civic Fellowship and was able to intern at the nonprofit organization.

“I had done other work at other nonprofits, but I really wanted to be at a specifically LGBTQ organization because I knew that was something I was interested in pursuing but have never experienced,” Rosenblum said.

Rosenblum interned with Equality Virginia’s communications department and was responsible for writing press releases endorsing candidates for the upcoming gubernatorial election in November. They also worked with graphic design, digital media and helped the initial planning process for the annual Transgender Information and Empowerment Summit (TIES) in Richmond.

Not only did Rosenblum’s summer internship give them the experience of working at a nonprofit organization that specializes in LGBTQ rights, but it also led to another internship for the fall semester. 

“I applied for a couple of internships and with the advice from my former boss at Equality Virginia, I applied for an internship with GLAAD,” Rosenblum said. “He sent in a good word and I got that internship. I also applied at an internship through the LGBT Community Center in New York City and also ended up getting that so I thought, ‘Why not do both?’”

GLAAD is a media monitoring organization that works to promote the image of LGBTQ people in the media. Rosenblum worked as the campaign intern at GLAAD for which they wrote web content on the issues discussed during the organization’s awareness campaigns, such as Trans Awareness Week, Bisexual Awareness Week, and Spirit Day, one of the largest anti-bullying campaigns in the country.

“Basically, after the campaign, you look at the numbers and you write a report about how successful your campaign was and what was good and what wasn’t,” Rosenblum said. “One of the articles I wrote was actually retweeted by Laverne Cox, which was really cool. I was working with tons of different people, all who are really qualified and incredible and had a lot of information to share with me.”

At the LGBT Community Center, Rosenblum was a digital media intern, a role in which they designed web graphics and posted content on social media to keep the constituents informed. Rosenblum also spearheaded an archive project while there.

“We have an archive of queer history at the Center and its just so much material that’s really incredible and amazing,” they said. “I digitized a bunch of relevant, engaging photographs to be posted on our social media so that the people who can’t engage with those materials in person can see parts of our queer history from afar, and that’s something that I’m passionate about.”

Through their internships, Rosenblum feels that they have valuable experience working with nonprofits and hopes to work in the field of queer advocacy as a career. Rosenblum is considering eventually going to graduate school to receive a master’s in social work or public policy, or a PhD in queer theory. For now, though, they have their heart set on delving into the advocacy field after graduating from UR. 

“I’m definitely excited to take some time off having been in school my whole life so I’m ready to take a break and get my hands dirty a little bit,” they said. “I feel prepared. I’m definitely nervous about going out there and getting a job, but I think that I’m ready and I feel confident in the skills that I have acquired and that’s a really good feeling.”