My name is Wes Heath. I was born in Dallas, TX, but at a young age, my family moved to Anderson, IN where I spent most of my childhood. I have always been very involved in school and in the community. During middle and high school, I volunteered at several places around Anderson, such as the hospital and the local state park. In fact, I always found summer time out of school to be so boring that I quickly became a full-time volunteer at Mounds State Park. After 5 summers (from age 10 to age 15) and nearly 5,000 logged hours, I became the first recipient of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources’ Volunteerism Award.
Unfortunately, at the age of 15, my time became less available to volunteer. My first job was a busing position at a local restaurant, and I quickly learned that the food business was not for me. Within two months, I had moved on to my second job; I worked customer service at a small, local grocery store. I really enjoyed working customer service. I liked solving problems, greeting customers, and creating a welcoming environment. I stayed in that position throughout my high school years until it was time to leave for college.
I attended Manchester University, a small, liberal-arts college stuck in the middle of cornfields in northern Indiana. There I received my dual bachelor of arts in sociology and psychology. At Manchester I worked as an educator and advocate for the campus LGBTQ community in multiple roles. I was the student government representative, president, and adviser of the United Sexualities student organization. I also brought my advocacy into my job as a resident assistant where I taught Safe Zone to the campus' residential life staff and traveled annually to residential living conferences where I presented about the importance of inclusion and acceptance in campus life. Near graduation I was asked by the university to lead a committee that was tasked with designing a three-year plan of proactive policy changes including voluntary name selection, gender neutral bathrooms and resident halls, and a campus-wide Safe Zone program. I can certainly say that none of my time at Manchester was wasted. Between presidencies of 5 campus organizations, founding a chapter of AKD (International Sociology Honors Society), and working three campus jobs, I still found the time to meet my amazing partner who I have been with for three years now.
Following Manchester I moved to Ball State University where I completed my master of arts in sociology. During my time at Ball State, I worked with the counseling office as a trainer for the LGBT Mentor Program. This program coordinates and trains graduate students, faculty, and staff to be able to provide help to LGBTQ undergraduates who need assistance, or at least someone to talk to regularly. It is a great program, and it certainly introduced me to some amazing allies and undergraduate students. On the academic side, I began a two year thesis that studied a local LGBTQ youth group. I reached out to the group as part of my strong desire to conduct applied sociological research. Over the course of the summer I interviewed members of the group to determine what elements of everyday life influence their anxiety the most, and what services their youth group provides that helps alleviate that anxiety. With the help of my committee and the support from the youth group, the thesis was a success. I was able to present the findings at a national sociological conference, several regional conferences, and I was even invited as a keynote to a local radio station.
In November of 2016, I accepted a job at Louisiana State University as the Assistant Director for Cross-Cultural Affairs in the Office of Multicultural Affairs. I love working with students on a daily basis through the many programs that I oversee, including Genesis Tutoring and Genesis Mentoring. I get inspired on a daily basis by the drive and dedication that I witness from LSU students. And, due to that drive, I was very privileged to be a part of the grand-opening of LSU's first LGBTQ Resource Room! I cannot wait to see what this position has in store for me.