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Chatham Gay-Straight Alliance Founder Julie Victain

Most little girls settle onto the sofa for screenings of Spongebob or Barney. Julie Victain watched CNN. “I’ve always wanted to be a journalist,” she says. “I love writing. When I got to Chatham, I had to take a Public Relations course and Professor Katie Cruger got me hooked.” It’s that extraordinary care for the world around her that drives Victain in her passion for activism.

Previously featured as one of the Stay Positive Campaign’s founding members, Victain just launched an entirely new project: This is me! Gay-Straight Alliance. “As a transferring sophomore last year, I had to take a class on social movements and activism,” she says. An assignment helped Victain create a plan and lay the framework; the organization got formal recognition this year. As Cougars plow into October, Victain is coordinating a series of events for LGBTQIA History Month (check out the complete list below). “Since we are a new student organization, it has been absolutely crazy,” she says. “Not many student know we exist or what we do. Planning events for October has taken up most of the group’s time.”

 Victain is hopeful that the community will embrace the organization in the way Chatham embraced her as a transfer. “When I toured, everyone was so sweet and caring,” she remembers. “It made me feel like they were family.” Since her arrival, Victain began work to bring that family closer.

Working in both University Communications and Alumni Relations, Victain recently added RA to her resume. “Being an RA is important to me because it keeps me on my toes,” she says. “It is also helpful having Rebecca Pressimone, my roommate, to help me through tough situations.” For Victain, working to unite residents is good practice for a career in journalism and marketing. “Being an RA helps because it prepares me to deal with crisis situations like I will handle in the PR field.” Conversely, “with residents that are friendly, being an RA is super enjoyable because you get to interact and make friends.”

For Victain, interaction is what being a Chatham woman is all about. Along with Ashleigh Fox, Olivia Warren, Samantha Wockley, and Miaoluowa Xie, Victain launched the Stay Positive Campaign last year to connect students for events designed to encourage sisterhood. Her goals for This is me! are similar. “I really hope that by creating This is me! that Chatham will become more accepting and aware of the LGBTQIA people on campus and have a better education and understanding of some of the issues they face on and off campus.” Luckily, Victain has a good foundation; she says her favorite part of being a Chatham woman is the friendship. “Being at a tiny school, it’s easy to make friends and to get messages across,” she says. “I love knowing almost everyone on campus and being able to talk to people.” Someday, Victain hopes be an anchor on CNN or work in PR for a university (hopefully both). In the meantime, Chatham is lucky to have a woman so talented and driven working to bring everyone together.

If you’d like to get involved, email Victain (jvictain@chatham.edu) and join the Facebook group. Meetings are on Mondays in the Woodland lounge outside the Residence Life Office.


  Mara Flanagan is entering her seventh semester as a Chapter Advisor. After founding the Chatham University Her Campus chapter in November 2011, she served as Campus Correspondent until graduation in 2015. Mara works as a freelance social media consultant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She interned in incident command software publicity at ADASHI Systems, gamification at Evive Station, iQ Kids Radio in WQED’s Education Department, PR at Markowitz Communications, writing at WQED-FM, and marketing and product development at Bossa Nova Robotics. She loves jazz, filmmaking and circus arts.  
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