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Sophomore Biology student working to raise awareness on campus

Calvin sitting on top of picnic table in front of Tyler Run Creek

For sophomore Biology major Calvin Stein, getting involved on campus and making a difference became a big part of his college experience. He is involved with the Chemistry Society as the current Treasurer, LAMBDA: LGBT Alliance, Spartans for Sustainability, and the President’s Task Force on Campus Sustainability.

His involvement in these clubs and organizations is what led him to create a button that incorporates two areas of interest for him. The button is colorful with the periodic element abbreviation for Bismuth or “Bi.” The colors represent the same colors on the flag representing bisexuality awareness and the abbreviation of “Bi” incorporates part of his identity and the inclusion of bisexuality as well as his interest in chemistry. “I thought this would be a great way to have something that relates to chemistry, but also represent inclusion,” says Stein.

Choosing YCP

Stein chose to study at York College because of both the biology program and the welcoming environment. “I wanted a college in Pennsylvania. I didn’t want to go to a big university that had 100 students in one class. I wanted to have the connection with the teachers. My main concern was looking for a good biology program, and from the colleges that I looked at, this one seemed the best,” he says.

YCP lived up to his expectations. He has met some inspiring faculty and staff members. Phillips Thomas-Hornbuckle, JD, Director of Intercultural Student Life and Global Programming (ISLGP) “has a very great personality—cheerful, helpful, and tries to get to know you,” says Stein. He has also been inspired by his teacher, Jessica Nolan, PhD, Associate Professor of Biology, for her care and understanding toward her students. “She’s very enthusiastic and concerned that you understand the material,” he says.

Raising awareness

The connections he’s made so far and the relationships he’s built paved the way for him to raise awareness around LGBTQ issues. Stein advocates for social justice issues and especially those surrounding LGBTQ rights. “I am very concerned with social justice issues. I think people should be informed,” he says. He works closely with LAMBDA to bring awareness to the different identities and to help others understand. Stein helped to promote Asexuality Awareness Week, or ACE Week, celebrated this year from October 25 to October 31.

“It’s estimated around 1% of the population is asexual. It’s important because a lot of people don’t realize that they might be, because they aren’t aware of the term,” says Stein. “Bringing awareness of that is important because [some individuals] don’t experience sexual attraction or experience romantic interactions in the same way as a lot of other individuals do, and they may feel like there’s something wrong with them.” ACE Week helps to inform and educate those who may not be familiar with asexuality, and also helps those questioning how to identify themselves to feel included—to know that they are not alone.

Crossing interests

Coming up on November 18, 2020, is another event that Stein is helping to coordinate on YCP’s campus—PRIDE in STEM Day, which incorporates both his interests in science and LGBTQ+ pride. The day, which is being presented in partnership between the Chemistry Society, ISLGP, and LAMBDA, will involve a series of drop-by events in the Iosue Student Union. The events will highlight scientists that have identified as LGBTQ+.

“We all felt that working to celebrate the day would raise awareness for the presence of the LGBTQ+ community in STEM, as well as provide resources for LGBTQ+ individuals looking to find greater representation in the sciences,” says Thomas-Hornbuckle.

The day will include a lunchtime table from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. with free buttons and LGBTQ+ affirmative messages for the campus community; a Cultural Power Hour will feature music by LGBTQ+ artists, songs related to science, or by artists who dabble in science; and a tent that will have bath bombs and shower bombs (while supplies last) from 2-4 p.m. The gallery of scientists will be on display in the Iosue Student Union until students leave campus for the fall semester on November 24, 2020.