Interview with the 2019 Youth Fellows

The SMYAL Youth Fellowship provides youth ages 16-21 with hands-on experience working for an LGBTQ youth organization while accessing leadership and professional development opportunities.

This year, SMYAL was honored to have been able to work with two incredible Programs Youth Fellows: Q Garcia-Geary and Asya Allen. As their time with us comes to a close, we sat down with them to learn a bit more about how they’ve grown throughout their Fellowship.

Q Garcia-Geary (they/them)

What were you hoping to accomplish through this Fellowship?

My goal going into this fellowship was to gain a better understanding of how to help other LGBTQ+ youth. What I wanted to learn was how I could make a difference and how I could help other people. One of the first things I learned is that youth don’t need other people to advocate for them. We need to be given the tools to advocate for ourselves. SMYAL has given me the tools that I need to be a leader and taught me how to share those skills with my peers to make a difference.

How have you grown throughout your time at SMYAL?

Personally, I have seen myself grown into the most authentic person I have ever been…Going into a workplace with other trans people of color allowed me to flourish in all facets of my life.

When I first arrived at SMYAL I was unsure about my ability to lead. I shied away from large responsibilities and was nervous to present in front of groups of people. This fellowship allowed me to understand that I already have the capability to lead. It showed me that I am able to take charge, and I should not be afraid to take action when needed. I was also able to hone these leadership skills. By the end of my fellowship, I was able to create and present workshops for people of all ages and backgrounds. I was also able to lead my peers in a way that supported them and helped all of us grow together.

What are you most proud of in your time as a Youth Fellow?

I am most proud of the person I have become, and the community I am apart of. After a year of working at SMYAL, I am more proud than ever to be queer. I am proud of the strength and resilience of LGBTQ+ youth and I am proud to be a support system for my peers.

Asya Allen (she/her)

What were you hoping to accomplish through this Fellowship?

I was hoping to accomplish more skills involving working in a professional setting and I have accomplished that goal by working with different departments to complete projects in Programs, Communications, and Development.

How have you grown over the course of your fellowship?

I have grown personally by gaining confidence in my voice. I have grown as a leader by being able to create and lead the SMYAL Dance Team, which I founded and now lead. I have grown as a professional by developing my skills working in an office space where I have to be formal.

What are you most proud of in your time as a Youth Fellow?

I am most proud of creating an event, planning it out, and making sure it was executed properly. I have seen other youth grow in skill and confidence thanks to my leadership within the SMYAL Dance Team. With my help and their determination, they will soon perfect the dances I’ve taught them.