Advocate for Inclusion

MU grad works to make students feel accepted on campus

by Sarah Sabatke

Many first-year students begin college with the goal of becoming involved and feeling included on campus. Amos Jaimes had a similar goal — but decided to go above and beyond in making others feel included.

student with blue hair sits in front of a rainbow flag
Amos Jaimes poses for a portrait outside of the LBGTQ Resource Center in the MU Student Center. Photo by Sam O’Keefe/University of Missouri

Making connections

Jaimes graduated from MU in May 2019 with bachelor’s degrees in history and political science. During his senior year, he acted as the director of inclusivity for the Missouri Students Association (MSA). Jaimes felt very connected to the support centers in the MU Student Center, especially the LGBTQ Resource Center and the Multicultural Center, and wanted to make sure those organizations felt connected to MSA.

“I don’t think sometimes people understand how valuable that connection is,” says Jaimes, from Tulsa, Oklahoma. “I’ve been trying my best to support different marginalized organizations on campus.”

A home away from home

Jaimes found his home on campus quickly, getting involved with the LGBTQ Resource Center during his second week at MU.

He began as a volunteer and continued at the center for three years. During that time, Jaimes came out as transgender and even met his fiancé, Rio Chacon.

Jaimes spent time participating in a number of other organizations under the center’s umbrella, including Queer Trans People of Color and Oasis. Eventually, a friend led him to Diversity Peer Educators (DPE), where he became a facilitator.

He said the organization taught him about privileges, marginalized identities and his own identities.

“I think a lot about differences within culture and how I have certain privileges in different spaces, even that I never knew existed,” says Jaimes.

“Having the tools that I learned from DPE, I was able to understand that in a deeper way.”

Artists’ showcase

Jaimes participated in the LGBTQ Art Showcase on campus in April 2019, both as a volunteer and as an exhibitor. The goal of the showcase was to exhibit a variety of LGBTQ artists while also spurring dialogue with students. Jaimes showcased a personal monologue dealing with self-revision.

student with blue hair holding a paper with printed text sits in front of a rainbow flag
Amos Jaimes with their written art submitted to the LGBTQ Part Showcase in April 2019. Photo by Sam O’Keefe/University of Missouri

“My monologue is kind of about how I had to revise myself in a way … of how I looked at myself and how I operated in the world because of realizing and allowing myself to discover that I am trans and I’m non-binary,” he says.

A self-proclaimed perfectionist, he says it was difficult to accept the need to revise but says that “if I didn’t change myself, I’d probably be really, really not happy.” The monologue helped him explore feelings he’d previously “pushed way back in [his] brain.”

Though Jaimes has now graduated and is contemplating the possibility of graduate school, the LGBTQ Resource Center will always have a place in his life.

“I’ve gone through a lot of different things,” says Jaimes. “I think [the center] is just one of those places that, when I’m there, I’m home.”

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