Hello! I am Sope. I graduated from Chapel Hill High School and currently am aiming to major in Studio Art, potentially with a concentration in printmaking. Art is my passion; I use art to question, and to influence others to question. I see art is a way to change the world. I am also passionate about working with oppressed groups to bring voices together, amplify the sound, and use the collective power to initiate change. As I identify with being nonbinary and queer, I want to work specifically with LGBTQ youth in the area and other students on campus. For the youth in the area, I hope to help create spaces that encourage personal expression and confidence. For the spaces on campus, I hope to participate in bringing together communities of various oppressions to work in forms of solidarity. Furthermore, I want to partake in making these groups more represented and accounted for in the university. The bridge between both of my passions is change, and I hope to connect both art and activism as I pursue my future careers.
I plan on traveling during my time at App, hopefully participating in either art or activism in a culture completely different than what I have experienced here in North Carolina. It would be great to create connections on a global level, potentially engaging groups working for similar motives across the world.
In the past, I have worked with youth-run LGBTQ organizations and clubs that connect queer youth and Q/GSAs together in an effort to encourage self-empowerment and form important networks within the community. These organizations/clubs include iNSIDEoUT and Upsidedown; NC Queer Youth Power Coalition (NCQYPC); Chapel Hill High Queer Straight Alliance; Queer Youth Drop In (QYDI- Part of the Youth Community Project); and Teenage Mutants, a youth-run radio show. Other groups I have participated in include Youth Against Rape Culture (YARC) and the National Arts Honors Society (NAHS). Within these groups, I have helped organize events including the first Queernival (hosted by NCQYPC), Queer Prom (hosted by iNSIDEoUT), queer youth retreats (hosted by iNSIDEoUT), and queer youth dance parties (hosted by QYDI and iNSIDEoUT).
Within the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School System I helped change the non-discrimination policy to include gender identity through the active participation of our Queer Straight Alliance, and with this inclusion we are working to get gender-neutral bathrooms within all three local high schools. The QSA also created multiple workshops in order to make the school a safer environment for LGBTQ students, including a classroom-oriented freshmen presentation about general information and resources, as well as a faculty-oriented presentation about eradicating heteronormativity and cisnormativity in the classroom. The QSA was featured several times in local newspapers, and our push for gender neutral bathrooms has become visual to the Board of Educators, making our goals a reasonable consideration for the future. In National Arts Honors Society, I participated for four years in the Memory Project, which is a non-profit organization that has students create portraits for orphans in developing countries. We also had several opportunities to participate in various art galleries, and even create our own shows in local venues.
The youth-run radio show, Teenage Mutants, was initially started by me and two other friends and gradually became a weekly commitment among many students at Chapel Hill High. The show has developed to be a voice of youth in the community of Chapel Hill/Carrboro and is a resource for keeping an audience of youth connected in events and participation in the area. Overall, these experiences with various communities and groups have impacted my life in many ways, and I hope to apply my commitment for the next few years in this wonderful community of Appalachian State University.