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Campus Cutie: Zach Shaughnessy ’18

When I met Zach a year ago, he was a shy, but charming person and I have been able to watch him grow into a wonderful young man. His heart is the biggest I have ever gotten to know and he will go above and beyond to take care of the people he loves. Zach is a sophomore Elementary Education AND English major who enjoys art and hanging out with his friends. After leaving Northborough to attend Framingham State University, Zach has been able to explore himself and has recently opened up about being transgender.

Go ahead and introduce yourself!

“My full name is Zachariah Michael Shaughnessy, but my friends call me Z or Zach!”

What’s you major?

“I have a dual major: Elementary Education and English.”

What is one thing about your major that people may not know?

“People may not know that wanting to be a teacher doesn’t mean that I hate money. For some reason I get asked that a lot, and it’s pretty frustrating. My majors are laughed at, but if you think about it, I’m going to be shaping the minds of the kids who decide where adults go when they’re in their late years.”

What do you like and dislike about FSU?

“I like the friends I've found at FSU, not just in my peers, but in my professors as well! As far as dislikes go, I'm hardcore anti-bookstore-prices!”

What are you involved in on campus?

“On campus I’m mainly involved in Pride Alliance and Her Campus! They’re both really great groups, and I’ve made some solid friendships through them.”

You recently opened up to your friends about being transgender. What was that like for you?

“Me coming to terms with my gender identity is an ongoing process. I’m really lucky to have friends who are understanding and compassionate enough to support me as I attempt to transition, but coming out to them was still a little scary for me. I’m a timid person usually, so I still don’t always correct people when they mess up my pronouns-which goes back to the ongoing process thing. I’m still coming out to people, and it’s hard because I’m not sure when I’ll be able to stop and just be recognized for who I am. So, it’s scary, and hard to do…but every time I get called by the right name or pronouns, it gives me this burst of relief and comfort and confidence and it reminds me that I am on the right path for me.

Do you have any advice for people who may be exploring their gender identity?

“I mean, if someone is exploring their gender identity all I can really say to them is to keep going! You’re going to come across people who don’t get it… a lot of people. But, that makes the people who DO get it so much better. Your true friends will try to understand, and holding onto them is a good idea-but don’t cling to relationships with people that invalidate you, or diminish your journey. You deserve more than that!”

What’s one thing you would say to the general public regarding the transgender identity or gender identity in general?

“One thing? Oh gosh. I guess I’d say that there’s no one way to be transgender- that everyone has their own experience, their own story, their own way of coming to terms with who they are. No one can speak for anyone else, because everyone is an individual.”

Zach, thank you for being open regarding this tough topic. Let’s move on to something lighter. What is your favorite book?

“My favorite book in The History of Forever is Cell, by Stephen King.”

What about your favorite movie or television show?

“Favorite movie is a tough one, it really depends what kind of mood I'm in! I'm always a sucker for Mirrormask, though.”

What is your favorite place?

“My favorite place is kind of hard to explain, because it sounds weird when I say it out loud. I grew up next to a cemetery, and there was a staircase on the far end of it that just led out into undeveloped woods. I like it there.”

That sounds pretty cool! You’re really interested in art so can you tell us what type of art you like?

“Oh gosh, art. I’m a huge fan of acrylic paint, watercolor, and colored pencils, and my friends can attest to my fascination with calligraphy. I’m really big on post-impressionism right now, but cartooning and various animation styles are always a blast!”

How would you describe your own art?

“My art is a little eclectic right now, but I’m moving more toward surrealism at the moment in my sketchbooks. In a more metaphysical sense, my art is kind of an extension of my thought process I guess? It’s almost always a little messy to look at.”

I really enjoy the passion you have for art! I noticed you took to a different media and wrote a blog for Her Campus. Can you tell us what inspired your blog about make-up?

“Honestly? As an artist I’m really into painting every available surface, and I see makeup and skin as another medium. I’ve never really understood where the whole “makeup is gendered” thing came from (if you check out my article, it actually started out unisex). I feel like all forms of art should be available to everyone, and cosmetics are just another medium that should be open to the public. Plus, I really like the band Fall Out Boy, and Pete Wentz taught me that boys like great in eyeliner. That’s a bonus!”


If you see Zach around campus, give him a smile or say hello! You will not regret meeting this amazing fellow!


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Rylan O'Day


Rylan O'Day
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