After a couple years on campus, Angela Olivares knew she wanted to establish an organization to support others like herself: queer students in a health-related major.
This summer, she and some of her friends established Health Queers, a student-led club meant to provide a social/networking space, and unite students interested in advancing health equity and creating health advocacy.
Students majoring in all areas of health and science are welcome to join. The LGBT Resource Center has been an avid supporter, said Olivares, a fourth-year biochemistry major. In fact, the idea to create Health Queers was born during the annual Q-Camp, an orientation led by the center for both undergraduate and graduate students.
“At Q-Camp last year, they asked what we wanted to do before graduating,” said Olivares, 21. “I said I wanted a space where health and queer students could meet. And then the thought came, ‘oh, I guess that’s up to me.’”
But she sought support and found it in her classmates: Bailey Campbell, Leann Labra, and Nohely Hernandez. Eduardo Monarrez, ’19, also helped establish the group.
“Not everyone in our group is LGBTQ, we welcome everyone and appreciate everyone’s input into taking this club to the next level,” Olivares said.
Supporting students in finding spaces and creating what they see as their own support systems is important for Student Life, said Adam Ryen Daniels, interim senior coordinator of Student Life. UCR currently has more than 450 student organizations, including fraternities and sororities.
“It’s vital for groups like Health Queers to exist, so students can find community here at UCR and discover how that community interacts with their academic and professional pursuits,” Daniels said. “There are nuances and distinctions that groups like this can address, as well as discussions happening here that likely aren’t happening anywhere else. We’re extremely proud of what this group has already accomplished and excited for what’s next from them.”
Olivares is also a University Honors student, a student ambassador with the Health Professions Advising Center, and works as a program advisor at Stonewall Hall, a gender inclusive
housing unit within Pentland Hills residence hall.
“Coming to college, I could have never imagined that I would learn things that are not part of my major,” she said. “It’s a privilege to be part of a campus culture that values diversity, community, making people from all walks of life feel welcome.”