Celebrating Pride: The Importance of Representation and Community | Information Center
SDSU Professor Amanda Marino knows first-hand the value of a support system for first-generation LGBTQ+ students.
As a youngster growing up in Pennsylvania, Amanda Marin didn’t think much about what it meant to be gay. She grew up in a conservative environment where freedom of expression was not encouraged.
“I went to a religious elementary school that obviously didn’t support gay people,” said Marino, now a professor at San Diego State University’s Charles W. Lamden School of Accountancy at Fowler College. of Business. “Lack of representation can make you feel alone and make it very difficult to explore issues that make you feel different or altered.”
As an adult, Marino stumbled upon roller derby and began building her own community of support.
“Roller derby is such an inclusive space. I skate with women, men and non-binary people,” she said. “Sport is a home for trans, gay, bi and other queer people to skate alongside straight people.” Growing up as an athlete in this supportive environment has helped her open up to her friends and family about her sexuality.
But when she mustered the emotional strength to come out to her family, it didn’t go well.
“There was a lot of judgment and anger based on religion,” Marino said. “I don’t think it has to be, because I believe you can be a religious person and still love and accept queer people. I don’t think those two concepts are mutually exclusive, but that’s not what that I lived.
Although some of Marino’s loved ones didn’t react well at first, she found love and acceptance within her community.
“I learned that even if not everyone accepts who you are, you can create your own community of friends and family who love and accept you,” Marino said. “It can give you strength and happiness to persevere.”
Another important part of Marino’s identity is being a first-generation college graduate. She attended Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts, where she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
“As a first-generation student, I needed a lot of help figuring out how to do well in the classroom and how to find a good job,” said Marino, who served as a tax accountant and investment advisor at Deloitte, KPMG and EY upon completion of its degree programs. “I had some truly amazing teachers who had a huge impact on my life and my success as a public accountant.”
After working in the accounting industry for ten years, Marino chose to return to academia when she began teaching as an adjunct faculty member and lecturer at several Boston-area universities before to go back to school herself. She got her doctorate. in Business with a major in Accounting from Drexel University in 2021.
Her experience as a first-generation college student is what brought her to SDSU that same year.
“I love that SDSU has such a large population of first-generation students,” she said. “I love to help (provide) assistance to students who may not be from academic knowledge and wealth with the guidance and tools to succeed. I want to pass on the support I received as a first generation student. There really is a lot of room to make a meaningful difference in their lives, and that inspires me as an educator.
Being candid with her students is also important to Marino as a queer woman.
“I talk openly with my students about my life with my wife,” she said. “I think it’s important for those young people who exist in marginalized groups to see successful representations in positions of power that they can relate to. I want them to know that they can find joy and support from the queer community to help them embrace and celebrate their sexuality.
Marino, who recently celebrated her third wedding anniversary, said Pride Month “is a good time to reflect on how we got here, individually and as a community.”
“We can appreciate all the battles that have been waged for my right to marry my love and plan a family,” she added. “Pride Month is a time to celebrate our gayness and also to remind ourselves that we need to keep working and speaking up if we are to continue to move forward as a society without stalling or backsliding.”