(BA Cultural Anthropology/Spanish,'06)
Q & A:
What was your favorite class, who was your favorite professor, or what is your fondest memory of Hofstra?
I was fortunate to truly enjoy the majority of my classes. I’ve always been grateful that we had such small class sizes. I felt that I had the opportunity to learn so much more because I wasn’t lost in the shuffle. It also challenged me to work harder. I knew I had to carry my weight because it would be very noticeable if I slacked.
My favorite class was Women and Men in Anthropological Perspective. I struggled to find my area of focus within anthropology; I had too many possible interests. But when I took this class, it solidified that the study of sexuality was the right fit for me.
What was your first job after graduating Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing you learned there?
My first job after graduating was as an English language and culture assistant in Spain. Professor Anastasio knew I wanted to travel and work overseas, so she told me about the position. It was only two weeks before the deadline, so I had little time to complete the application and essays and get my letters of recommendation, etc. Both Professors Anastasio and Sampedro took the extra time to help me complete everything before the closing date. I realized that even applying for a job can be a group effort. I never would have been able to finish everything on time without their support. And I also learned that if you work hard and show your commitment, people will be willing to help you out when you need it.
What advice would you give Hofstra students?
Be open to all that life has to offer. Each and every experience changes us. My path in life has been altered many times over the years. The first time it happened, I had been so set on a specific course that it was difficult for me to realize that my interests had changed. I had to learn to be flexible and allow myself to follow my heart, even when that meant making a major change in direction.
In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
Liberating. I left Idaho for New York because I needed a different experience. I desired diversity, tolerance and acceptance. Hofstra allowed me to see a whole new world outside of what I’d always known. It also gave me the opportunity – for the first time in my life – to be completely open about growing up in a gay family.
When you were pursuing your degree, did you think your major would direct you to where you are now?
Definitely not; my path has changed many times. After my time in Spain, I continued working in education. I taught English as a second language in Madagascar through the Peace Corps and then completed two terms of AmeriCorps in Los Angeles. When the economy crashed and the education field didn’t bounce back, I left teaching and went into health care. I now work at a community cancer clinic, doing project management work in clinical research.
And then two years ago things changed dramatically when my dad retired and same-sex marriage became legal. I didn’t think stepping out of the closet would be a possibility in my dad’s lifetime, but suddenly our circumstances had changed. I started my advocacy work, which isn’t something I ever could have imagined 10 years ago when I was in college. But it also feels right. Sometimes in life we zig and zag in order to find ourselves right where we need to be.
Who has most influenced you, and how?
My family has had the most influence on me. They’ve always loved me unconditionally and showed me endless support. When I asked them two years ago how they felt about sharing our story, we had many conversations. But in the end they were all in agreement; they understand the positive impact we can have and the importance of educating people on LGBTQ family experiences. I am everything I am today because of them, and for that I will always be thankful.
Natalie is an Idaho native who believes in a future where gay families are equal and no longer have to hide in the closet out of fear. She aspires to reduce discrimination against LGBTQ families through the power of education and sharing her own family story.
After high school, Natalie moved to New York for college. She studied Spanish and Anthropology at Hofstra University. Her studies of culture and language awakened a thirst for travel. Upon graduating, Natalie backpacked Europe before setting in Madrid to teach English. Natalie went on to serve in the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps.
Throughout her travels and time outside of Idaho, Natalie began to realize how living in a closeted gay family affected her perception of the world. When her AmeriCorps teaching position ended in 2011, she returned to Idaho. When her dad retired from his position as the former Chief Judge of the Idaho State Court of Appeals, she began writing about her travels and her family.
Natalie is an author and advocate for LGBTQ families. She participates in Blogging for LGBTQ Families Day, is active with COLAGE and represents Idaho on the Western Region Advisory Council through Family Equality Council. She is the founder of Treasure Valley Queerspawn, a group for teens and adults with at least one LGBTQ parent or guardian in the Boise area. She is the author of Dad #1, Dad #2: A Queerspawn View from the Closet, the first memoir written by a child growing up in a closeted gay family.