Who We Are


Jen Martin
Major: Biology
Minor: LGBT Studies

Hi, my name is Jen Martin and I’m going to reform healthcare to better serve the LGBTQ+ community. But in the meantime I’m a premedical biology student who is particularly interested in the world of LGBTQ+ medicine, particularly trans care and HIV/AIDS care. When I’m not stressed about my studies I like to play video games and watch videos of dogs on the internet.

I came out as bisexual in my senior year of high school, and ever since then I have heard many horror stories about how medical professionals treated LGBTQ+ youth, and I want to make medical resources safer and more available when I become a doctor. I decided to come on this study abroad to learn more about the history of sexuality and to gain a better cultural understanding so that I will be able to effectively work with LGBTQ+ patients in the future. My specific focus on this trip will be analyzing the relationship between medicine and LGBTQ+ people, whether it be the pathologizing of same sex sexuality, the AIDS crisis or the medical issues the community (particularly people of color) faces today. I believe I will learn a lot on this trip and I am super excited!


Kaity Bivona
Major: Sociology
Undeclared Minor: LGBT Studies
Purdue LGBTQ Student Alliance

Bonjour tout le monde! My name is Kaitlynn Bivona and I am currently an undergraduate student pursuing my BA in Sociology, as well as intending on declaring a minor in LGBT Studies. I have a passion for advocacy regarding all peoples and their liberties, though my main area of focus has always been, and will likely forever be, that of the LGBT community. This drive to speak out for the people of my- as well as YOUR- community (as we are all people of all circumstances and living in all places of the world) stemmed from a young age when I first began to learn about and recognize myself as the individual I am. It can be a difficult world to live in if you do not adhere to the categories set in place by heteronormative societies, as I have personally discovered along the way. It is through the trials and tribulations that I have had to tackle throughout my young life that I have come to understand who and what I am, and it is credit to these experiences that I am able to acknowledge the necessity for further legislative action to be taken in order to protect the people in America who cannot otherwise defend themselves.

The benefits and opportunities provided by this fantastic Study Abroad program are lifelong. As a sociology major and an activist, I will be receiving first-hand knowledge and experience on matters not only relevant to today’s age, but of the past, as well. I am eager to do my part in taking action with ACT UP/NY this June and to further learn about the history of LGBT culture and censorship in order to educate those around me about the importance of things such as HIV prevention and treatment and of how prevalent LGBT life is in their own society, whether they are aware of it or not.

Brit Hemphill

My name is Brit Hemphill, and I am a senior at Purdue University. At Purdue, I am pursuing degrees Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Communication with minors in LGBT studies and History. My passions are body positivity, social justice, and Italian Greyhounds.

The Southside of Indianapolis is my home, and I aspire to one day call the New England area “home.” I spend a lot of my free time with my family and friends, but also reading, writing, appreciating art, going to movies alone, and spending time outdoors. You will almost always see me with a notebook close by and, more than likely, craving a caffeinated beverage.

Sex, History, and the Cities originally interested me because it appeared to be everything I could want in a study abroad experience—and so far that continues to be true. I am determined to learn as much about queer history as possible while participating in this privilege. I’m particularly interested in middle sexualities and their daily lives prior to the Gay Rights Liberation movement.

I am thrilled, excited, and thankful to have this opportunity, and I cannot wait to become closer to my colleagues and fearless leaders. I anticipate learning a lot and experiencing a lot that I can take back to Purdue in the fall.

Kelsey Johnson
Major: Human Relations
Minors: English and LGBT Studies

Hello! I am Kelsey Johnson and I am a junior studying communication (specifically human relations) at Purdue University. I love libraries, cats, interpersonal communication theory, pop punk music, feminism, and Diet Coke. I came to be a member of this study abroad after a lot of stumbling around; first into a course titled “AIDS: Biomedical, Social, and Ethical Issues” and then into the LGBT minor.

I signed up for an honors course on AIDS when I saw that there would be frequent movie and pizza nights, and ended up walking away with a passion. I learned about the history and science of HIV/AIDS, as well as the culture, art, poetry, and filmography surrounding the disease. Learning about something as terrible as the AIDS epidemic for an entire semester made me want to do something about it.

During this class, a panel from the LGBTQ Center visited us one day. This is how I first heard about the LGBT minor and study abroad trip. I am an advocate for human equality regardless of gender or sexual orientation, and I knew right away that this was a minor that I needed to pursue.

When I discovered that not only did this trip travel to New York, Paris, and Amsterdam, but also presented the opportunity to work with organizations that were major players in the AIDS epidemic, I knew that I had found a study abroad for me. I still have a desire to be a part of the eradication of the disease that eliminated a generation of promise: of artists, playwrights, authors, photographers and so many others. This trip provides me with just that, as well as so much more! I cannot wait to travel to such culturally rich places, analyzing them through a queer lens. I am very excited to become an activist, Broadway show patron, Parisian flâneur, and food snob.

Henry Shi
Major: Industrial Engineering
Minor: LGBT Studies, History

Heyo! My name’s Henry and nothing incentivizes me more than the people who I consider family. I am a terribly inconsistent person and my interests fluctuate more than insert wit here. Comic Books, Superheroes, and Film, however, have always been my escape, and have molded my morality early on. I love meaningful conversations and ridiculousness. But I love Simplicity so much more. This world is so complicated, convoluted, and constructed by so much contradiction across the spectrum that, I think, being profoundly stupid, ignorant of time, and sharing an “unproductive” experience with friends is the best thing ever. One of my favorite things to do before college was hanging out at White Castle with my really close friends, chilling and talking about anything, until around 3 in the morning. Then we’d head home and wake up for school the same day. But I can’t do that anymore, especially during these busy and productive weeks of the Study Abroad.

Growing up, I learned  from my failures and burdens, which led me to realize that appreciation and kindness are two of the greatest inventions that people have inadvertently constructed for peace and understanding.  I don’t believe that anyone can absolutely be understood, and I don’t believe anyone should ever be void of hope. So I will help those who are suffering with the knowledge I have accumulated and will continue to garner, never allowing anyone I come to know feel meaningless. And here I am now, with a one in a lifetime experience to learn and take in new perspectives from this Amazing Study Abroad Program. I can’t wait to and experience the Food and culture of Paris!!!

Molly Weber
Majors: Classical Studies and Film & Video Studies

I hope to graduate with Honors in 2017 and attend graduate school at UCLA for Archiving or Library Sciences. My dream job would be working as an archivist/film historian for an animation company, such as Pixar, a gaming company, like Nintendo, or an organization like the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Television, film, and books are very important to me and I believe in increasing diversity in casting and writing.

I’ve very excited to go on this trip because I will get to see a new side of NYC, Paris, and Amsterdam. I have been to New York before, but I have never travelled abroad so it will be a little nerve-wracking. However, I know the trip will be a lot of fun. During this trip, I’m most excited to visit Notre Dame de Paris since I’ve been in love with the story of The Hunchback of Notre Dame my whole life. As I’ve been researching the cities we will be going to, I am also especially excited to visit the Museum of Sex in New York and Le Musée de l’érotisme in Paris to see how sexuality has been portrayed throughout history, because it is a topic that is often avoided in most schools. As a classics major, I will be looking for examples of sexuality in ancient civilizations and hopefully I will be able to learn more about Ancient Greece and Rome as well as other civilizations that existed BCE.

Jami Lemish
Major: Women’s Studies
Minors: LGBT Studies and Sociology

Hello, my name is Jamilyn Lemish and I am a senior in the school of Liberal Arts at Purdue University.  I’ve been in the college game for almost 8 years now— I finally graduate in the fall of 2015; I honestly thought I would never see the end, but somehow, it’s just around the corner.  So, to end this long but amazing journey, study abroad was the only title appropriate for the nearing end of my undergrad career.  Here’s a little more about me… I am feminist, fearless, and headstrong.  I am a leader of the student organization ACT UP Purdue (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) and a part of the LGBTQ Speaker’s Bureau.  I am an avid and dedicated ally to the LGBTQ community which is what brings me to this path of activism and adventure. I reside in Lafayette with my boyfriend where we have one fur child named Bixby; who is a short hair Netherland dwarf rabbit.  I love to make people laugh— it’s so fulfilling to see people smile and fall in love with the feeling of joy.  I spend a lot of my free time with friends, family, and being “an expert” at Hearthstone gaming.

When I first started to find my place at Purdue, I thought I would find it in athletic training where my love of helping people and athletics started when I was in high school.  And while I loved working with athletes and learning about people, I didn’t find my place in the athletic world like I thought I would.  After 6 years of pursuing the dream to one day work as an athletic trainer in the NFL, I finally decided that my place was not there, but in social working; more specifically, healthcare and medical social working.  It has been a long road of finding who I am and where I am meant to be in this world.  But, I always found myself around the LGBTQ Center at Purdue— first just checking it out, seeing what the center was like, to going and making friends, to participating in events and getting to know all the wonderful people who make the LGBTQ Center home for me.

I signed up for this class to gain knowledge and perspective of the LGBTQ society.  My main focus is with ACT UP NY and Paris coalitions to better lead ACT UP Purdue.  With the HIV/AIDS epidemic so close to home in Indiana, getting the word out about treatment as prevention (TasP) and how to better the community with healthcare options is a challenge.  However, I feel that the experiences from this class will better prepare me for what the future holds.

Until we meet again….


Alex Nickolas

The story of my life, while it may be short, has been quite a whirlwind of events. Being born and raised in a small town in Texas, I did not know anything about gender norms, or even LGBT history. It was not until I came to Purdue as an English major that I found my true calling in life. Learning about gender norms intrigued me so much that I soon add minors of sociology and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies. Everything I learned in these classes fascinated me. From queer history to the aids crisis, it became very apparent to me how much help the LGBT community needs. The hatred that society has for LGBT people is astounding, and it is my dream to change that. The amount of LGBT people who have life long mental illnesses because of this hatred is my main concern. It is my dream to be a counselor for LGBT youth and help our new generation be one of compassion and acceptance. The opportunity to join this class and learn about this history will not only give me a greater understanding of our community but also about myself. When I am not daydreaming about the future or going on feminist rants, I can be found serenading my cat or spending too much time on tumblr.

Bethany Stoddard

Hello! I’m Bethany Stoddard, and I originally came to Purdue to major in Wildlife. I’ve always had a deep love of animals, and studying them for a living seemed to place me right where I wanted to be. I very much enjoyed my classes, but during my freshman year, I began to explore more about psychology, a field that has interested me for years. I mainly researched mental illnesses, and the more I explored the field, the more I loved it. By the end of my sophomore year, I had decided to switch my major. By studying psychology first at Purdue and then going on to get a PhD, I plan to become a clinical psychologist. Because of my experience with depression and my compassion for all people, the study of psychology, especially abnormal psychology, is important to me. I want to change the stigmas placed on individuals with mental illness at the same time I help individuals overcome their problems.

I wish to specialize in helping members of the LGBTQ+ community. As a pansexual and androgyne member of the community, I understand many of the challenges the LGBTQ+ community faces. However, it is always possible to understand individuals better and more deeply. I have an Americanized view of the community, and I want to better understand that the American LGBTQ+ community is only one part of a spectrum of LGBTQ+ communities and identities. Traveling to New York, and especially France and Amsterdam, will grant me new perspective of these communities. Understanding people is one way of showing that you care about them and their problems, and it will also help me better connect to individuals I meet in therapy. The rapport, or lack thereof, between therapist and client can determine whether the patient is able to overcome or better handle their mental illness. I will do all I can to understand my patients and those around me so that I may help them to the best of my ability.

Holly Fitzpatrick
Majors – Anthropology; Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Minors – English; LGBT Studies
President of the Society of Gallifreyan Scholars at Purdue

My name is Holly Mae Fitzpatrick, and as an undergraduate senior focusing on anthropology, I am specifically interested in the intersections between sexism, homophobia, and culture. Everyone looks at the world differently, and reality is always messier than academia. I am very excited about the experiential learning offered through this study abroad course, seeing as the university typically prioritizes only one style of learning. I have also never been outside of North America, making this course the best way to spend my summer. Above all else, I am seeking to broaden my cultural understanding through interacting with people of different backgrounds.

On a lighthearted note, I adopted a toothless cat last summer, who I named Sgt. Pepper. My ultimate dream is to own a feminist bookstore that provides resources for women and LGBTQ individuals, especially those with disabilities, so I am naturally excited about what I will learn from the Lesbian Herstory Archives.


Dr. Yvonne Pitts, Associate Professor – Department of History

Professor Pitts received her Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in 2006.  Her book titled Family, Law, and Inheritance in America: A Social and Legal History of Nineteenth Century Kentucky and was published Spring 2013 by Cambridge University Press.  It explores the tensions and contradictions in the standard of sanity required to write a valid will. Focusing on nineteenth century Kentucky as a legal and geographical border state, it examines questions of moral obligation, free will, and how ordinary people understood their most intimate relationships.  Traversing the histories of property, disability, insanity, and women, it analyzes how ordinary people and legal elites understood family and used law to make claims on each other.

Her current research interests include exploring how legal capacity was a disputed standard which was antecedent to the rights of citizenship, including suffrage.  She is in the early stages of a project on how understandings of property evolved before and after the Civil War, focusing on nuisance law, vagrancy, and land.  Professor Pitts teaches courses in U.S. constitutional history, the history of sexual regulation, race and the law, and American legal culture.


Lowell Kane, Director – LGBTQ Center – Division of Diversity and Inclusion

I am overjoyed to participate in this 2nd year of this Study Abroad opportunity with so many wonderful students, and an amazing co-leader, colleague, and friend – Dr. Yvonne Pitts. We learned so much from our experience last summer, and this year I’m looking forward to new and exciting projects, collaborations with scholars and activists, and expanded relationships with ACT UP!

I believe that studying abroad is a life changing experience. It has been such a privilege linking classroom learning with service work and organizations, museum collections, public health, archives, activists, and community spaces.  I’m looking forward to connecting our students with the amazing groups and activists that have inspired me personally for more than 15 years as a part of this movement. I know that our days will be filled with transformative learning, and I anticipate that upon our return, this wonderful cohort of student leaders will bring back the knowledge, skills, and abilities they develop during this experience to improve the world around them.  Follow our travels, read our blogs, ask questions, challenge us, encourage us, and be prepared for great things!!!

Lowell’s professional bio and LGBTQ Center information available at: http://www.purdue.edu/lgbtq

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