University’s Impact Continues to Resonate with LGBTQ Alumni

By Melissa Graham  |  June 10, 2020

After becoming involved in LGBTQ organizations on campus, Cody Kuhn BA’17, MA’18 and Larry Guillen MBA’19 continue working to make the world a more inclusive, understanding place. 

Cody Kuhn BA’17, MA’18

As an incoming freshman at The University of Texas at Dallas, Cody Kuhn BA’17, MA’18 didn’t have the traditional support system to help guide him through his college years.

Cody Kuhn BA’17, MA’18

“When I came to UT Dallas, I was beginning to transition, and my parents didn’t understand that very well,” Kuhn said. “I felt very alone. The pride and organizations on campus became like a second family to me.”

Kuhn wasted no time becoming involved in numerous student organizations, from University Theatre to Rainbow Guard, Pride and the LGBTQ+ Education, Advocacy & Programming Initiative (LEAP).

“One of the things UTD does best is invest in diversity,” Kuhn said. “Sometimes it can be really hard to be heard. The Galerstein Gender Center and student organizations really work together to make policy and help implement that together. Being able to affect change in my community felt really empowering.”

As a student, Kuhn was also able to participate in studies conducted by UT Dallas faculty, an opportunity that expanded his impact as a member of the transgender community.

“I was able to work with faculty who were doing a survey of LGBTQ Texans and their needs,” Kuhn said. “Faculty at UTD are really involved in getting students involved in research. I was able to get my name on something that was published, and it made me feel like I could make actual change by studying government and LGTBQ Texans.”

Now a doctoral student at The University of Texas at Austin, Kuhn is studying American politics and public policy in hopes to teach and continue advocacy work at the state and federal level. Kuhn currently works with Dallas-based Trans Pride Initiative, which works to ensure transgender people receive equal rights to health care, housing, employment and education.

“Ninety percent of activism is just showing up,” Kuhn said. “Even if you don’t know everything, just being physically or virtually there is really important.”

Larry Guillen MBA’19

Larry Guillen MBA’19 also connected with student organizations on campus, but not until the third year into his master’s program. Along with attending events through the UT Dallas MBA Programs Office and volunteering his time with Pride, the University’s LGBT+ student organization, Guillen received his Certificate of Diversity and Inclusion developed by the Living Learning Communities.

Larry Guillen MBA’19

“The more I can educate myself, the more I can make a sound business argument,” Guillen, who now works in talent management at CoreLogic, said. “What really motivates me is to just continue learning.”

As a student, Guillen continued his education by completing the Galerstein Gender Center’s Safe Zone Ally Training sessions, and became aware of just how much more he had to learn to be an advocate for all.

“What I learned is that I didn’t know very much,” Guillen said. “I had my own experiences, but I didn’t really know the proper nomenclature for someone that’s transgender. I didn’t know how to be an ally to the other parts of the community.”

At the time, Guillen was interning for the City of Dallas, and his newfound knowledge enabled him to put a program on allyship together for city employees.

“It felt really empowering to be able to support the community at large, not just the “L” or the “G,” Guillen said. “I may not have the experiences, but I know that I learned something new that I could pass on. It made me really proud of my alma mater.”

Today, Guillen continues to learn and advocate for the LGBT+ community as a membership chair for the North Texas LGBTQ ERG Coalition and the Texas Diversity Council. The human resources professional credits the inclusive atmosphere at UT Dallas for allowing him to continue to make a difference in his post-graduate life.

“It really exposed me to the different parts of the community in a safe environment,” Guillen said. “UT Dallas is so involved in making sure students feel welcome; there’s never a sense that it’s exclusionary. You’re treated as more than just a student ID number.”