Building safe spaces for individuals of all sexual orientations and gender identities is important to Leslie “Valerie” Cuellar ’20, who was pleased to land an internship with the LGBTQ+ Center of the Finger Lakes and work alongside its Program Coordinator, Chelsea Snyder ’11.
Since securing the position in November, Cuellar has worked with Snyder to organize the annual Finger Lakes Pride Festival, an event that celebrates the diversity of the local LGBTQ+ community, contacting sponsors and vendors, helping to create an itinerary for the weekend, and assisting with event promotion. This year, the festival is slated for Saturday, June 9 from 3 – 10 p.m. at the Seneca Lakefront in Geneva.
“Working closely with an alumna is very exciting,” says Cuellar, a Posse Scholar who is interested in psychology and philosophy and hopes to become a child psychologist or clinician. “It’s important to me to make an impact beyond campus. Networking and building that safe space for our communities is a priority of mine.”
In addition, Cuellar has been tasked with creating a resource book of LGBTQ+ friendly businesses and services within the Geneva community, as well as in the surrounding Finger Lakes area.
“Our goal is to have a book that we can give people who visit the Center that says, these businesses in our area support LGBTQ community members or are LGBTQ run,” explains Snyder.
For Cuellar, the work continues throughout the semester on campus as well. Cuellar serves as a student staff member for the LGBTQ+ Resource Center in de Cordova Hall and encourages students, faculty and staff to visit during drop-in hours this semester. (Drop-in hours are Tuesday 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., 5 – 6 p.m.; Wednesday 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., 5 – 7 p.m., Thursday 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., 2 – 3 p.m.; Friday 10 a.m. – 12 p.m., 1 – 4 p.m., 5 – 6 p.m.)
Founded in 2012, the LGBTQ Center of the Finger Lakes is an advocacy program of Family Counseling Service of the Finger Lakes with its main office located at 671 S. Exchange St. in Geneva. The Center provides educational outreach, support groups for youth and adults, and advocacy services specific to the LGBTQ community throughout Ontario, Wayne, Seneca and Yates counties. Their youth support group You Are Not Alone (YANA) meets Mondays at 3:30 p.m. in Geneva, Tuesdays at 4:30 p.m. in Newark, and Wednesdays at 3:30 p.m. in Canandaigua. On the second Thursday of the month from 5:30 – 7 p.m., the Trans* and Gender Expansive Coalition of the Finger Lakes meets for those who identify and are over 18 years old. To learn more, check out their website www.fcsfl.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
Cuellar discovered the internship though the Salisbury Center for Career, Professional and Experiential Education.