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Student Spotlight: Jacob Pepper

June 1, 2022 - Jesús Hernandez and Beth Brauer

Jacob Pepper is a rising senior studying social relations and politics with a minor in educational studies in James Madison College.

photo of Jacob Pepper

Where are you from?

Coldwater, MI

Why did you choose Michigan State University and James Madison College?

I chose Michigan State because I wanted to go to a big school that has opportunities in a wide variety of career fields. James Madison College seemed like the best fit for me with what I am interested in, and I liked not having to choose a major the first year. Coming from a small high school, I still wanted to have that smaller residential college experience where I could get individual one-on-one faculty support, but also have the resources of a Big Ten university. 

Has your JMC education (thus far) contributed to your understanding of self as a member of the LGBTQ community or fostered greater awareness of issues that pertain to queer identities?

While there is still work that needs to be done within the college to make it a more affirming space for the community, my time at JMC is significant for understanding myself and my identity.

The themes of my MC 111 section were “gender and identity,” taught by Professor Melissa Fore, and this was the first time I experienced positive LGBTQ+ representation in my schooling. It was significant to learn about the cycle of socialization as well as the unit on sexism, heterosexism and trans oppression because having language for these topics creates a greater level of understanding.

Have you used any LGBT campus resources and, if so, what was your experience like?

There was one time during the first year of the pandemic I reached out to The Gender & Sexuality Campus Center in relation to a housing issue, and the staff at the center were incredible in making sure my accommodations were met.

As a student employee in the Office of Student Life and Engagement in the Student Services Building, I get to see the staff at the center do their amazing work. In addition to their services, there are numerous student organizations that focus on affirming LGBTQ+ needs.

Is there someone you have found to be a major source of support and or inspiration? If so, who and why?

The residential college community helped me find LGBTQ+ friends my first year. Through these friendships, I have been able to talk about subjects that I was unable to before because of where I grew up, and it is liberating to relate to a larger community of people with similar experiences.