Whether you’ve been her classmate, peer student, or friend, you know Michelle Cerami. If you don’t, you’ve definitely seen her on campus. From Palos Verdes, California, Michelle is finishing up her major in religion, accompanied by her minors in sociology and Asian studies. She practices her passions through her work by being an advisor for her peer students and leading PRIDE as their current president, while striving to make the world a comfortable place for everyone. Keeping with her deep interests in religion, Michelle works as an Interfaith Allies Intern and stays involved with campus policy as a Senior Senator on ASCLUG Senate! When asked if she was involved with anything else off campus, she responded, “Not applicable. I live and breathe CLU.” Michelle’s bright attitude and ambition will encourage you, leaving you feeling unstoppable.
Her Campus at Cal Lutheran: What made you decide to come to CLU?
Michelle Cerami: I wanted to go to any small, religious, liberal arts college outside of California. After visiting my top choice schools, I realized I wouldn’t be happy there. I came to the first day of orientation at Cal Lutheran with a list of schools I wanted to transfer to, but by the end of the year I became a Peer Advisor. I fell in love with Cal Lutheran far more than I expected to.
HCCLU: What has been the most rewarding part of attending this university?
MC: The most rewarding part, for me, has been seeing the progress in my first years as a Peer Advisor. I love seeing the growth in my students from the beginning of orientation to the end of freshman seminar, the end of their first year, and throughout their years at Cal Lutheran.
HCCLU: What course has been your most memorable one?
MC: I took Queer Theology with Dr. Carlson, and it was memorable to me for a few reasons. Through this class, I became close with almost the entire class, because the nature of the course created a sense of community. While I was taking the course, I still wasn’t “out” yet to the larger Cal Lutheran community, but it empowered me to do so. It also expanded my academic interest. Within religious studies, my primary academic interest is the intersection of colonialism and religion in the early modern period. The readings in this course grew my love of theology, and now I try to incorporate theology more into my academic work.
HCCLU: What are you most passionate about?
MC: I definitely have a lot of passions, but I think they’re tied together. I am really passionate about, obviously, LGBTIQA+ rights, but specifically on this campus, I’m passionate about reaching out to queer first-years and connecting them with student leaders who are queer. I’m passionate about first-years and orientation, and, in my future career, I want to help find new ways to help serve incoming students from historically underrepresented populations. I’m passionate about inter-religious and cross-cultural dialogue and education. Mostly, I want people to be able to come to campus and feel like there’s a place for them to belong.HCCLU: I know you are heavily involved in the CLU PRIDE club, being its President! Can you please elaborate on what this club is and what it strives to achieve.
MC: PRIDE club is a space for LGBTQIA+ students and allies to come together and create community and talk about what we’re going through right now, whether that’s personally, on campus, or within a greater national context. There are some weeks where we’re volunteering and having a great time, or there are others, like after the election, where we’re sitting on a circle on the floor crying. We do a lot of different things to try to serve the needs of where different students are at, but the root of all we do is to try to create a sense of community.
HCCLU: What events have you participated in with PRIDE? Which one has been your favorite one to go to or your favorite event PRIDE has held on campus?
MC: We host an annual student-led drag show where we have drag queens and drag kings strutting their stuff to some great musical numbers. The performers are always incredible. Our drag show this year is Friday, April 21 at 7:00pm in the Preus-Brandt Forum.
We host a National Coming Out Day tabling where we table with an actual rainbow doorway people can take pictures with and find out some resources to help coming out should they need it.
We also go to AIDS Walk LA every year in downtown LA, which is a blast. I don’t know what’s really fun about meeting up at 7:00am and walking a 10k, but we get to know everyone who goes really well and have a great time hanging out afterwards grabbing brunch. It’s probably my favorite event we do, because I love getting to know people in the club more personally.
Other events this year we’ve done or we’re doing are volunteering at Triangle Square, a retirement home for low income, LGBTQIA+ persons, The Year We Talked About Love film screening, lunch with Rev. Dr. Guy Erwin, and a LGBTQIA+ faculty/staff dinner.HCCLU: What advice would you give to someone who is having a hard time finding how they choose to be identified?
MC: Be patient with yourself. You don’t need to have it all figured out tomorrow. It’s okay to come out as one label and change it. Identity is fluid, but you’re still you. Even though it’s scary or you may not know how you identify yet, you can talk to your friends about it or you can come to PRIDE if you can’t. There are people here who love you, even if you’re not sure who you are yet.
HCCLU: Time to get a bit sentimental. What are you going to miss most about CLU when you graduate?
MC: It sounds so cliché, but I am really going to miss the community I’ve found here. The friends I have made here are family to me, and Cal Lutheran is my home. It’s going to be really hard to leave, even though I know there are great things on the horizon post-grad out there for me.
HCCLU: What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve received during your time at CLU?
MC: Dr. Carlson always reminds me to make time for self-care. It not only benefits me, but it benefits all the communities I’m in when I’m feeling my best. Even though I’m really busy, I try to make some time every week to take a bath, light a candle, hang out with friends outside of class or extracurricular, get off campus, etc.HCCLU: If there was one thing you could go back in time to tell yourself as a college freshman, what would you say?
MC: You’re going to find your tribe. You’re going to find people who love you. Make time to enjoy yourself and savor the time you have here.
HCCLU: If you could have one superpower what would it be?
MC: Telekinesis would be so rad. Mind reading would be so invasive, but it would be ridiculously cool to be able to move objects.
HCCLU: Anything you would like to add?
MC: My favorite quote is from Angela Davis: “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept”.
Find what you’re passionate about and then go out and do it. You may not be able to change the entire world today, but you’re able to change where you’re at right here right now.