Neiko Alvarado, a junior at Bowling Green State University (BGSU), is a student leader and community organizer addressing issues of reproductive and gender equity as well as racial and environmental justice. His leadership talent includes the skill and ability to teach others how to organize and overcome social injustices. Through his involvement on and off campus he has worked with his peers in various other social justice oriented organizations to build strong coalitions. He is currently working with his peers and the local community to provide free, safe transportation for students of color and LGBTQ+ individuals in order to reduce harassment and discrimination while promoting safety and prosperity for the entire community. Additionally, through his work as a member of the BGSU campus Green Fund committee, he has been a student leader making budget allocation decisions regarding sustainable projects to help reduce our environmental impact as an institution.
I believe that our words, our voices, are one of the strongest forces known to humankind. Every person has a right to use that voice, to speak their truth, and to be heard. This principle is what drives me to activism and social change. I have carried out this goal by facilitating inclusive spaces on campus for students of color and queer students. Although I think providing space for minority students is paramount, we must also ensure they feel safe in spaces that are not cultivated for them. This is why I formed Guerilla Queers. Far too many students of color and queer students feel unsafe walking home alone at night, in streets where many of their peers take for granted feeling safe and secure. Big Gay Ride allows marginalized students to enjoy the same college experience as others, without the fear of violence or harassment. Serving my community has been my greatest pride. It has not only taught me how to be a leader, but compassion and humility for my fellow human. I believe it is my life's purpose to uplift people's voices and ensure that our differences as humans of the world are not just tolerated, but celebrated.