The LGBT Center’s Queer Peers mentoring program gains national recognition


Courtesy of

The LGBT Center unveiled their Queer Peers mentoring program aimed at helping first-year and transfer students build connections with others on campus this past summer.

Megan Gawronski, Staff Reporter

Case Western Reserve University’s LGBT Center, located in the Tinkham Veale University Center, runs a great variety of programs focused on fostering inclusion and belonging among members of the LGBT+ community and allies on campus. This August, the Center’s new Queer Peers mentoring program (QPM) was nominated for the National Residence Hall Honorary Diversity Program of the Month, and proceeded to win at the local, regional and national levels. 

QPM is a program offered to first-year or transfer students who identify as LGBTQ+, intersex, asexual or allies. “[It] was created with the intention of helping [freshmen] to build interpersonal connections with others on campus to help them feel at home at CWRU,” said fourth-year Katie Toledo, one of the program’s mentors. “Because of the pandemic, we realized that it would be much more difficult for freshmen to build connections with others than ever before.”

The program was created by Jaden List, the center’s Wellness and Program Coordinator so that first-years could meet other first-years and upperclassmen, who could provide them guidance, mentorship and friendship during the pandemic. 

Khushali Desai, a first-year who participated in QPM this year, described the program as being a way for her to connect with other members of the LGBT+ community upon arriving on campus. “I wanted to be involved in activities on campus that connect me with my fellow community members,” she said. “It was a nice way for me to get introduced to campus culture.”

The eight-week long program began with a kick-off event on Aug. 25. Held over Zoom, expectations for the program were discussed and mentees were given the opportunity to interact with each other and with different mentors in breakout rooms so that they could get to know each other and choose who they wanted as a mentor. Every week of the program, mentors interacted with individual mentees two times, both one-on-one and in a small group. Every week had a discussion topic upon which conversations were focused, with the first few weeks focused on helping mentees learn more about CWRU and college life in general and later weeks focusing on LGBTQ+ specific topics.

“QPM focused on the personal experiences and lessons learned by the mentors during their [first] year and overall time at CWRU, as well as general education related to [LGBT+] identities and terminology,” Toledo said. “I wanted to help my mentees feel at home at CWRU and help them to feel safe coming to me with any kind of issues.”

The program officially ended the same week as midterms, but mentors and mentees were encouraged to stay connected. The program was very successful; while it was expected that 10-12 mentees would sign up, over 20 students ended up participating, with about 90% completing the entire program.

“I would highly recommend this program to any new student on campus who is looking for a way to meet new people, learn more about the community and learn more about themselves,” said Desai, who enjoyed her experience with the program. Desai added that she believes it provided a great way for her to connect with other members of the LGBT+ community on campus. 

The LGBT Center plans to run the program again next year, and is in the process of expanding and editing it to improve upon its successes. “While we’re still working on the specifics of the program’s format for next year, I’m really excited to see how we can expand and improve [it] for future participants,” Toledo stated.