Spectrum Center

Jen Hsu photo

Year of Graduation and Concentration:
2008, Neuroscience & Sociology

First Job:  
Executive Director, OutCenter

Current Job:
Coordinator of LBGT Student Services, Western Michigan University

Advice to current UM students:
Get involved in what you’re passionate about, even if it’s different than what you’re majoring in. College is one of the great times in life to explore new ideas and opportunities.

Biggest challenge you have faced in the workforce:
The biggest challenge I have faced in the workforce is defining what success means to me. I used to believe that success was easiest measured by a professional title, promotions, acknowledgments and a paycheck. I was fortunate to meet, along the way, great leaders who shared not only my values and professional ambition, but also shared my belief that there’s more ways to define success. I learned that, for me, it’s important to slow down and take time to do work in a way that’s meaningful, ethical and rewarding to me. That means not getting ahead on the backs of other people and taking time to invest in people and their development.

Because you do identity-specific work, how do you navigate your life and work and intersecting social identities?
As a queer woman of color, I have found that bringing my whole self adds value to my work. It means recognizing that just because something has been done a certain way for a long time, or by a lot of people, doesn’t mean that it’s the best we can do. Specifically, working in an office and creating programs that focuses on queer identities, I’ve discovered how important it is to challenge ourselves by asking, who’s missing at the table? I’ve found that it’s important to trust myself, my lived experiences and to be able to bring that perspective to my work by lifting up my voice as a woman of color. I’ve also learned that there are many social identities to which I can be a more effective ally through education and meaningful dialogue. There’s always more work to be done and we can accomplish a lot more through cross-movement building.