Mike Lavers wanted to get out of New Hampshire. As a resident of Manchester, he was hoping to attend college anywhere other than the University of New Hampshire, and he was dev- astated that he had to come here.
Four years later, his thoughts have changed and he is very happy with his decision to come here. “When I was thinking about going away to college I thought I wanted to be in a different environment, like somewhere in Boston . But when I came here I thought I better at least keep an open mind. In hindsight, a place like Boston would have had too many distractions.”
Mike’s open mind not only allowed him to give UNH a chance, but it also lead him to get involved in classes and organizations that ultimately opened doors to a rewarding career in journalism. Although Mike first declared a major in Marine Biology, he switched it to Journalism during June Orientation. Mike is a person who values reflection and journaling, so he felt a career in journalism was a great match for him. But it wasn’t until the morning of September 11, 2001 that Mike felt a true passion for his future work.
“It was a beautiful fall morning and I was heading to my second ever journalism class. When I arrived at class our professor let us out early and I remember her saying something to the effect that ‘The world is falling apart.’” Mike left class still not knowing for sure what had happened. He walked into the MUB and saw the second tower of the World Trade Center collapse on live TV. Shocked, he quickly called his mom for comfort. Like so many other people that day, Mike spent the rest of the day watching CNN. As he watched the journalists report on such a horrific event, he thought, “This is what I am going to be doing five years from now. My job is to inform people and report information that is accurate, while also trying not to cause mass hysteria.”
Outside of the classroom, Mike has done a little bit of everything at UNH. “I think if you are going to be here you might as well get involved; it seems like a waste to not get involved.” During his first year, Mike lived on the theme floor, Common Purposes, in the Upper Quad and he says his experience living there taught him about diversity and inclusion, and his involvement stemmed from there. While at UNH, Mike has served on the Commission on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Issues; he has volunteered with the Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention Program; he worked at the Whittemore Center as a member of the event staff; he is a work study student at the Office of Presidential Commissions; he is a staff writer for the TNH; he worked with SCAN; he studied abroad in Spain; and he participated in the summer LeaderShape program.
It was during the summer LeaderShape program that another door opened for Mike as he began the journey of his coming out process. “I was questioning my sexuality a month before LeaderShape, and it was at LeaderShape where I met one of the facilitators who was a major inspiration to me and is now a dear friend.” After LeaderShape Mike spent the summer at a camp where he was able to do a lot of journaling and it was then that he first wrote in his journal that he was something other than heterosexual. After that summer, he began to realize that his sexuality was just one part of who he is, and he really wanted to be the many parts of himself all the time.
As he looks forward to graduation, Mike is excited to continue his career in journalism. He is already a contributor for InNewsWeekly , a GLBT newspaper in Boston, and he hopes a full time combination of journalism and activism is in his future. When asked what advice he would give to incoming college students, he thought back to his first months at college and said, “Come here with an open mind and don’t be afraid to try new things. Have fun, grow, and examine yourself as an individual, because college is an incredible learning experience.”