To all my professors at LCCC: Thank you

Like any student, I felt both excited and nervous for my classes. The fall 2019 semester felt like an opportunity; it was the first time I attended school as a man.

What behavior did colleagues expect from me? How should I present myself? These questions that ran through my mind every day.

The first and largest challenge was telling professors my name. Would they question me? I didn't realize that people tell professors their names or nicknames if there's a difference in their name on the class roster. Instead, I went to each professor fifteen minutes before class and stated: "Hi, my name is Leon. The class roster might be different, but this is what I go by." I had to splash cold water on my face afterwards because I was so flustered!

Since then, I shed most of the self-doubt that crippled me during those first few weeks. I feel comfortable and confident in myself and my identity. This didn't happen magically though, this was the result of resilience and perseverance.

I can't thank my professors enough. Through them, I learned how to express masculinity in healthy ways, without toxicity or problematic behavior. They encouraged me to stand up for myself and others in the face of injustice, and this is something I will carry with me long after I graduate from LCCC. They gave me confidence and the tools to wield so I can live unapologetically.

Because of them, I learned how to be a man.