S2 E01 - Building Sustainable LGBTQ+ Peer-Mentoring During COVID: A Vision Several Years in the Making (Part 1) - Sam Ascencio

While many encounter problems in the world and think “Someone should do something about this,” Sam Ascensio is one of the select few who says “Why not me?,” then rolls up his sleeves and gets to work. Drawing on valuable life lessons and guidance from his father, Sam left behind a semi-professional soccer career to pursue a degree at John Jay College of Criminal Justice where he created “Q’onnections, a mentoring program for LGBT+ students. Inspired by his own journey of coming out as genderfluid while adjusting to college life as a first generation student, Sam felt a strong desire to provide support and affirmation to peers in similar situations. With the help of faculty mentors, Sam tapped into empathy, determination, and a magnetic personality to take Q’onnections from a longshot goal to a permanent program with a full-time director and fifteen paid mentors. In this installment of Digication Scholars Conversations, Sam elaborates the process of creating Q’onnections while sharing his philosophy on mentoring and advocacy. “It’s about opening the doors for the people and letting them pick which door they want to go into, and even if they come back a little hurt and a little scarred, you’re there to comfort them and keep pushing them.”

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