Monday, December 3, 2018

Farewell to Dr. Sofia Pertuz

On November 12, 2018, Dr. Sofia Pertuz left Hofstra University to take a position as Senior Advisor for JED Campus and Diversity Initiatives at The Jed Foundation (JED). Reflecting on the many contributions Sofia made to the Hofstra community during her time as Associate Vice President and Dean of Students, members of the Dean of Students Diversity Advisory Board offer the following parting comments:

To Dean Pertuz,

It's been an amazing year and half working with you to improve this campus. I am so grateful that I was able to see people of color have a seat at the table with your insight and input. And of course, I feel blessed for having had the privilege to sit on the Diversity Advisory Board and lend my voice. Thank you for being you, and thank you for being our advocate.

Zain Farooqui

Sofia’s passion and devotion to student affairs and the student experience has had a profound impact on my Hofstra experience. Even before joining the Diversity Advisory Board, I was very aware of her presence on campus. Her excitement to attend events throughout campus makes her a well-known and accessible face among the Hofstra administration. Most importantly, her ability to patiently listen to all regardless of view point is a true gift. Sofia has made a lasting impact here at Hofstra, and though she will be missed, her initiatives will be a reminder of her dedication to our Hofstra community. 
Beck Galbraith ‘19

To our Dean of Students,
Sofia is a leader, a confidant, a cactus collector.
We built the board to amplify voices and help the university make good choices.
We listened to our community and analyzed all options handling opinions and experiences with caution.
She moved silently through our spaces leaving nuggets of knowledge in unexpected places.
She challenged my thoughts and expanded my mind
She made a difference in all our lives by being firm, but kind.
Which brings me to the point of this elementary rhyme
Appreciate her gifts and talents in all new endeavors
She can make a difference in the lives of others just like she did mine.

Genesis Rivera ‘19

A message from a friend,
Sofia and I began our lives in very different places, but somehow our paths eventually crossed, and I couldn't be more grateful for the opportunity to have worked with her. Three and a half years ago, I met Sofia during my interview process and immediately recognized her as a person of vision and compassion, committed to creating inclusive environments for students. I remember talking to my family, hesitant to once again move far away from them, but explaining that the opportunity to work with Sofia was something I couldn’t pass up. Through our time together, I have grown as both a person and a professional. I will miss most our long talks about life and how we navigate the world. Sofia pushes people to be the best versions of themselves. She demonstrates great strength on a daily basis, serving as a role model for students and professional staff, and leads with a mixture of humor, kindness, and patience. With her influence and support, hard-working colleagues have been able to expand resources and programming for underrepresented students at Hofstra. Diversity workshops are now fixtures in our new student orientation and student leader trainings; student leaders today better represent the rich backgrounds of our student population; our peer mentor program has grown; affinity groups have been established; collaboration among multicultural groups has improved; efforts for first generation students have increased; and inclusive language has become more prevalent in written policies and other University materials. Hofstra remains an imperfect organization with imperfect people, but the important work Sofia started will be picked up by others who have been inspired by her, and her legacy will be evident through the actions of the many lives she touched during her time at Hofstra.  

Joseph Fitzpatrick, Associate Dean of Students 

Friday, October 12, 2018

The Unending Closet

By Beck Galbraith ‘19

When I was younger, I imagined one day I would come out and it would be a big reveal, and suddenly, I and everyone around me would know everything about who I was. I could not have been more wrong. I have come out so many times in the past four years that I cannot even give an accurate guess. The first time I came out, it was to my sister over a bowl of Italian wedding soup and everything was the same the next day. There was no big reveal and not everyone found out at once. After coming out a few times, my mentality shifted from being thankful not everyone knew to wondering how they had not heard yet. Then, after coming out countless times, I came out as another identity. And then another. I’ve come out so many times, it’s starting to get a bit confusing; who knows which parts of my identity?

As I celebrate National Coming Out Day and LGBTQ+ Heritage Month, I have reflected on my coming out experiences and what coming out means to me. I realized, for me, coming out is not about figuring myself out or finally trusting someone enough to share with them; coming out is about allowing myself to stop filtering my expression around that person. Coming out can be a very important piece in a relationship, but I have found, more often than not, it does not matter to me whether I plan out a speech or I come out accidentally. I do not inherently trust the people I am not out to less, and my relationships are not automatically less meaningful. The labels I claim are not perfect representations of me, and they do not have to be. To put it simply, I come out for the opportunity to explore myself more deeply outside of my own head. I have felt real freedom from coming out, but the question of whether to come out in a specific situation will be one I ask for the rest of my life, and the answer will not always be the same.

While what it means to come out and the impact it has on the lives of LGBTQ+ individuals will continue to change throughout my lifetime, the importance of exploring yourself, your identities, and supporting yourself throughout the process remains just as strong. Claiming the identities queer and trans have been very important steps in my coming out experiences, but this October I would like to focus less on making sure everyone knows the labels I share with the people around me and more on exploring how I can be my most authentic self. For the past four years, I have been telling myself, “I came out to be more myself, not less.” Lastly, to anyone who is considering coming out, just remember coming out is a lifelong experience so you have plenty of time!