Andrea Glass is a grassroots innovator. Though she’s worn many hats in her professional life – from teaching in history museums to mentoring students for a pilot project in Allison Hill, Harrisburg – she says a spark “came alive” when she started studying and then teaching gender and sexuality. Andrea is currently writing her dissertation and finishing her Ph.D. in the field, and teaching Women and Gender Studies at the University of Delaware.
“Many of my students come to class looking to learn something about both themselves and the world around them. I am truly blessed knowing that the enthusiasm that I have for my class, my research, and social justice, has changed the lives of others,” she says. “I have had the privilege of working alongside them and motivating them to discover new perspectives and understand marginalized communities.”
For the past 3 years, Andrea has served on the LGBT Center of Central Pennsylvania’s board, and has seen firsthand the impact of their programming on youth in the community. Her overall goal is to impact the way that people perceive and relate to those who are different from them, and she says that she works firsthand with students who are coming from “hostile environments” or victims of sexual assault. “Working with my students outside of the classroom has taught me so much. Early on, when I was teaching history, I had a student come out to me and share their story. I watched them go onto then lead an LGBTQ+ organization on campus and excel in their academic pursuits.”
Though there are still challenges ahead (Andrea specifically cites the 2016 election as having “taught her a lot” about the communities she works, lives and researches in, and the ways other acknowledge, or fail to acknowledge privilege and oppression) she challenges everyone to “go beyond their own echo chamber” and make connections with people they otherwise wouldn’t have.
“My heart will always be on the ground in our communities,” she concluded. “At the end of this semester, one of my students left me a note that read, ‘Thank you for opening my eyes to things I had never heard, seen, or thought about before. Thank you for inspiring passion within me that I never knew I had.’ This journey is not about me, but about channeling my enthusiasm to make a difference in others. Innovation and creativity will always be at the center of that vision.”
By: Brianna Wiest