Diversity Focus: Branden Mabe

Categories: CHHS News

The College of Health and Human Services is takes a closer look how the varied backgrounds and experiences of students at UNC Charlotte contribute to a vibrant campus community. Do you have story to share? Connect via social media using #unccdiversity #unccsupportsme

Branden Mabe

Biology major, Chemistry minor, Member of Peer Leader-Educators Advocating for Sexuality Education (PLEASE), Treasurer of American Medical Student Association (AMSA),UNC Charlotte chapter

How do you engage with diversity on campus?

At UNC Charlotte, I made it my mission to live fully “me.” I wanted to get involved with organizations that helped me to not only progress in my career goals as a physician, but also that helped me initiate progress in the social issues that I am passionate about. I joined the Peer Leader-Educators Advocating for Sexuality Education program (PLEASE) as a way to advocate for sexual education that is not abstinence based (as I experienced growing up) and that is queer-inclusive. I made sure to make all of my presentations queer-inclusive because I did not obtain the tools I needed as a gay man to navigate sex in the most safe and fun manner in my rural hometown. As a part of PLEASE, I strive to make all of my presentations and discussions queer-inclusive so as to provide those resources to other queer people on campus who also may not have had the right resources just like me. I want to show other queer people that life gets better, and they can be successful in whatever career they pursue.

How does your lived experience enhanced the way you approach college?

The entire reason I came to UNC Charlotte was because of the diversity of an urban area like Charlotte. I come from a rural NC town on the border of Virgina where diversity is severely lacking. My class of 93 students was almost exclusively white, cis men and women who identified as southern. I wanted to get out of my hometown and embrace who I was as a gay man with southern roots without facing discrimination from my peers. Because of my experiences with adversity and feelings of loneliness in my hometown, I have a better understanding of what it means to be a queer person from rural areas. My lived experiences here allow me to advocate for queer people from all walks of life, and I am better able to break the stereotype of what a gay man is. Many of my friends here at UNC Charlotte, before meeting me, had the idea that all gay men participated in drag, aspired to live in New York City, and wanted to go into various arts programs. My experiences as a rural, gay man in the sciences have changed the image of queer men in my friends’ eyes, and I am hopeful they are taking these realizations and spreading them to their spheres of influence as well.

How can UNC Charlotte improve its support of support of diverse students?

Continue working harder for the LGBTQ+ community. I am ecstatic to see the first queer space in the works on campus, but I would appreciate even more if the university put on more events tailored for queer individuals. Showing queer events in their marketing materials would also help to show their dedication to the LGBTQ+ community.

How does your college or professors support you?

My professors in the Honors College have always encouraged class discussion on social issues such as race, gender, and social identity. These discussions allow for the class to get differing world opinions, ultimately broadening their horizons and providing perspectives they may not have had back home. My professors in my major and minor do not really encourage discussion on social issues, mainly because biology affects anyone regardless of how they look or love. Many of my professors in my major and minor department, however, are always helpful to everyone in the class, and I have personally not experienced any discrimination from these professors.

What is a campus initiative or program where you felt a sense of pride or supported?

One program stands out: PLEASE. I feel a sense of pride because I know I am doing something that has an affect on students of this campus. My presentation on Cookies and Condoms last Spring on STDs and my presentation at an event a couple of weeks ago on Fluid Bonding taught my friends some risks to sex they had never heard of. They became educated on the statistics concerning HIV/AIDS, Syphilis, and Gonorrhea in Mecklenburg County, as well as the US as a whole. On top of that, they obtained free condoms and lube for safe sex! This program has been a fantastic resource to me as a future physician, and it has allowed me to grow in my skills as a peer health educator and progress queer sexual education to all of those that attend my presentations.

This post is supported by the work of the College of Health and Human Services Diversity Committee.