My start in Transform began when I unknowingly took a class that would change my life. I had signed up for Kilo Zamora’s intro to gender studies class. I only took it in the summer to catch up on credits. I went into the class not knowing what to expect because I had not a clue about gender theory, queer theory, feminist theory, or really any theory. At the time, I was a STEM major and I remember Kilo’s teaching methods feeling like a breath of fresh air. I had just failed my first math class and needed something easy that made sense to me so I could boost my confidence before I jumped into my even more math intensive classes. Kilo’s class was definitely not easy. I found myself exploring topics that required every crevice of my brain to dissect, but I realized I actually had a connection with them because I wasn’t just dissecting tedious problems, I was dissecting complex, fascinating human interaction and development—I was dissecting real life. Mid semester, Jen (our advisor), came into our class and felt like the biggest “Yes you can!” I’d heard, so about one month into studying something I’d never even heard of, I was now a double major in atmospheric science and gender studies.

From there, Transform became the place where I could be critical of everyday processes. I could question whether the mundane actually made sense. I could ask “How do we make this better for everyone?” It’s a place for the people who have looked around and been angered by the hurt of the world—the injustices. The place where we’ve been able to determine that we don’t like what’s been placed upon us and have decided to pull and stretch the boxes until they fit just right and then pull and stretch a little more to make room for everyone else. Transform is a home for the boundary-pushers and the visionaries.

Transform is the place where my fellow boundary-pushers and I have come to learn new tools for asking questions and demanding answers. Here we’ve learned that if we don’t like the answers given, we can demand and create new ones for our communities. Transform has taught us how to reflect on the past while bringing inspirations forward, how to support those asking the important questions now, and how to become those people ourselves. We’ve learned how to be critical in the name of forging new pathways, and we’ve learned the importance of carrying the fighters, lovers, and thinkers of the past with us. Transform is the safe space to envision, explore, and get angry. Transform recognizes our anger as passion and teaches the tools to turn passion into organizing and activism. Transform gives us a space to lean on and learn from each other. We all have had a hand in shaping one another’s education.

Transform for me, has been a place of self-discovery and it’s been a landing place for when I fail. I’ve had the privilege of spending the last four years soaking in all the knowledge that my peers and professors would allow. I am forever grateful for even a speck of everyone’s time here and all that I’ve gained from being in your presence. Thank you for being a part of my community and for allowing me to be a part of yours. I am in awe of our resilience over the past year and onward. Thank you for your confidence in me and for being part of my journey. You’ve all shown me what it means to be a changemaker and for that I can say I am a proud, graduated Transform member today. My only hope going forward is that we continue to hold each other in times of sadness and grief and stand with each other in the fight for the future and the present we’ve spent the last four years envisioning and working toward. Again, thank you for being my community and here’s to the fight for a world where pain is not synonymous with any regular day. A world where everyone can live lives full of radical love and abundance. A world where our visions and fights come into fruition.