Not only devoted to her academic studies, senior Colleen Mundy may be greatly familiar to many students and faculty due to her various leadership roles on campus. As an English major with an emphasis in Creative Writing, she expresses her appreciation for her experiences at Whittier College. Originally from Alta Loma, California, Mundy has transformed into a more confident individual since her move to Whittier.
Why did you choose Whittier College?
“I didn’t want to go too far from home but also, so many elements just fell into place. I wasn’t proactively looking into particular colleges, but when I came to Whittier, I just fell in love.”
What does Whittier College mean to you?
“That’s a loaded question. Whittier College is an opportunity different than what I may have gotten elsewhere. There are many factors that come into play here—in terms of the liberal arts education, in terms of the culture on campus, and in terms of what I’ve done here. I think that at other institutions I wouldn’t have been able to do 90 percent of what I’ve done at Whittier.”
Speaking of things you’ve done, in what ways have you been involved on campus?
“I am a member of the Thalian Society; I pledged as a freshman in 2008, and right now I am current acting President for the spring semester.
I am also the President of TOBGLAD, which is our gay and straight alliance on campus. It stands for Transgender, Other Identified, Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, and Allies for Diversity. I am the new member education female co-chair for the pledging season, and also the Minority Caucus co-chair. I am a member of ODK, which is a national leadership society, and a member of the national English honor society.”
Tell me about some of your passions in life and how they developed.
“That’s where Whittier comes in, big time. I came out my freshman year, and first of all, that wouldn’t have even happened at some of the other local institutions. My mom was really pushing Azusa Pacific and other religious institutions. Obviously, that would have gone a little bit different.
My biggest passions are multiculturalism, diversity and equality work, which are reflected in everything I do here and in my plans for the future. I don’t know if you’ll get into this later, TOBGLAD and my Minority Caucus co-chair position are very heavily seated in multiculturalism, equality, social justice and diversity. That really didn’t become a passion of mine until last year. When I came out of the closet, I was easing into it and TOBGLAD was just reestablished.
It died out my freshman year when the two co-presidents graduated and no one really kept it up. I was vice president at the time and the president changed schools, so it was thrusted upon me. I had some shoes to fill and fate kind of just threw it at me. It was in line with my passion that I had not yet discovered at the time.”
How does your presidency of TOBGLAD reflect your views on the topic of your passions?
“TOBGLAD is a really inclusive organization and we even changed our name this past year. We included the ‘T’ and the ‘O’ to be more inclusive to the transgender and other parts of the community. Something I don’t think many people realize with the gay community and TOBGLAD is that there’s a place specifically for allies. That’s why there is an A in our name. I don’t think people recognize that so much.”
What was an obstacle you faced while attending Whittier College? How did you overcome it?
“The ignorance level on campus affected me. Many straight people do not know they can be a supporter and not necessarily be gay. Whittier may be a very liberal campus, but there are definitely areas that students don’t really understand or know about pertaining to the gay community. I think opening their eyes through a gradual process is the best way to go about it.
For instance, in a previous campaign we encouraged students to take the phrase ‘that’s so gay’ out of their vocabulary. It was very important because it stressed the impact that the statement has on the LGBT community, especially since it has become everyday slang.
Through negotiations with Senate and everyday organizations on campus, I believe I have pushed people to have an open mind when they consider organizations that are separate from their own identities. I did not see myself as an advocate when I first arrived, but then again, if you would have asked me five years ago if I could see myself where I am now, the answer would be a resounding no.”
Do you have any advice for underclassmen concerning their aspirations?
“I think too many people suppress their passions. I think it is hard to find them sometimes but once you do, a lot of people get scared of society pressures and don’t act upon them when they really should. It’s the only way this world is going to educate itself. It doesn’t have to be on a high advocacy level but once somebody figures out they have a certain passion and suppresses it, they are not only hurting themselves but they are hurting the larger cause they can potentially help. Embrace your passions.”
What are your plans for graduate school?
“I applied to CSU Fullerton, and I am planning to receive an M.S. in higher Education and connecting that to multiculturalism.”
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
“I want to be secure in diversity of multiculturalism work and advocacy for equality, but I do not want to give up my love for writing. My plan is to have at least one book written and publication would be a bonus.
Through my emphasis in creative writing, I have explored short story, song and poem writing. I am working on the development of novel writing, which I hope will further transform and assist my goal of becoming a published writer.”