Meet Binghamton University alumnus Nicole Avallone, Class of '98
Nicole earned a B.A. in Environmental Studies and minored in Woman's Studies while here at Binghamton. She is currently the Deputy Director of Programs and Policy at the New York City Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center, where she oversees direct service programs. Nicole served as a panelist for our LGBTQ Alumni Career Panel last October where we had the opportunity to chat with her about her time at Binghamton and her career path.
QC Spotlight: What are some of your best memories about Binghamton?
Nicole: Late night runs for speedies. Exploring the community off-campus. When I finally moved off-campus I think my rent at the time was about $400 a month, and I realized that Binghamton (the city, not just the school) is actually a really incredible, diverse, and unique place.
QC Spotlight: Were you able to connect with the LGBT Community at Binghamton?
Nicole: I came out to myself, and others, pretty much at the same time - in my sophomore year. I recall a Queer Student Union getting off the ground around that time, but I wasn't really at a place where I even knew what that meant. I was quite honestly a bit terrified of the word "queer," though today it is most definitely the word I use to describe myself. Despite that, I fell into a really wonderful community of LGBT and allied friends, and we definitely had a great little community of our own.
QC Spotlight: What advice would you give to current students?
Nicole: Try everything! Push your comfort zone! Get to know people who's lives and experiences are profoundly different from your own, and listen to them. Ask questions. Raise your hand often...unless you already raise your hand all the time. In which case, remember to take a step back now and then to listen. Be prepared to change.
QC Spotlight: Do you have specific advice for LGBT students?
Nicole: Remember: no matter what anyone tells you, you matter. It's a bit cliche, and may be far easier said than done, but as much as you possibly can, aim to find a space and a community where you feel like you shine. I was fortunate that I quickly found folks who believed in me, saw me before I perhaps even saw myself, and pulled me up and pushed me forward when I was afraid. I was especially fortunate to find that at Binghamton, but your place may be somewhere down the road. Keep going.
QC Spotlight: What advice would you give to students heading out into working world?
Nicole: My grandmother always told me the most important thing is that you are happy. I know, I'm lucky I have an awesome grandma. There are a lot of people who have expectations of us, and I'm not saying that we just ignore those realities. Often things begin to fall into place when you give yourself permission to focus on you, while also lovingly acknowledging the people around you and their investment in your future. Oh, and 15 minutes early is on time!