DANBURY, CONN. — Leah Juliett, a Western Connecticut State University student majoring in political science and minoring in justice and law administration, conflict resolution and women’s studies, was one of 10 college students recognized recently by Glamour magazine as a 2018 College Woman of the Year. Juliett is featured in the June/July issue of Glamour that celebrates the “campus leadership, scholastic achievements, community involvement, activism and entrepreneurship” of the women selected in the magazine’s 62nd annual competition.
The 21-year-old, who will graduate from WCSU in December 2018, is already a highly visible advocate and leader for LGBTQ+ rights, both on campus and on the world stage.
Juliett, who is nonbinary and uses they/them/their pronouns instead of gender-based pronouns for self-identification, founded March Against Revenge Porn, a civil rights organization that seeks to ensure cyber safety, after nude photos of them at age 14 were posted on the Internet. A 2017 march across the Brooklyn Bridge organized by Juliett to call attention to the lack of revenge porn legislation in New York City soon will be followed by marches in Boston, Pittsburgh, Hawaii and Florida.
Juliett expanded their focus to the country’s current political landscape with the creation this year of the National LGBTQ+ Youth Town Hall, a grassroots political mobilization campaign for voting-age queer and trans youth to interact with politicians in advance of the 2018 midterm elections.
How did a 21-year-old become so savvy to the machinations of politics? Much of their expertise in working with politicians and policy came as a result of their education at WestConn, which included stints as a legislative intern for Connecticut Rep. Elizabeth Esty and Sen. Chris Murphy, where they focused on constituent outreach and casework, especially as it pertained to the LGBTQ+ community.
In addition to directing two organizations and holding down both internships, Juliett is a member of the university’s Hancock Student Leadership Program (HSLP). The HSLP is designed to “promote, foster and acknowledge diverse student leadership, and their ability to inspire, motivate and influence others on campus and beyond.” Juliett clearly has taken the program’s mission seriously, capitalizing on a scholarship that allowed them to shadow Jillian Gilchrist at the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence. There, they focused on the intersections of revenge porn and human trafficking, and presented suggestions for amendments to Connecticut’s revenge porn law at the Connecticut General Assembly’s Trafficking in Persons Council.
While at WCSU, Juliett has been a member of the Kathwari Honors Program and received the Rosien Scholarship for Political Science and the Rosa Parks Award for Global Citizenship from the Department of Social Sciences.
“Being a Kathwari Honors student allowed me to take courses that have increased my knowledge of leadership and democracy,” Juliett said. “The courses offered by the Honors Program challenge your thinking and expand your personal and political ideology.”
With graduation still six months away, Juliett continues to build upon their reputation as a leader. Earlier this year, Juliett received the Delta Airlines Accelerating Acceptance Grant at the GLAAD Rising Star Media Awards. The grant provided funding for the creation of the National LGBTQ+ Youth Town Hall. Juliett also has had a presence discussing social issues on screen and in print at CNN, MTV, Buzzfeed, Teen Vogue and Seventeen magazine.
Juliett said, “My education is an extension of my activism work. My career goal is to become a civil rights lawyer and U.S. congressperson. I have purposely registered for courses at WCSU that engage my personal interests and increase my abilities to fulfill my future career goals through expanding my knowledge and practicing skills required in my field.”
The first step in meeting those career goals is Juliett’s recent appointment as the Youth Engagement Coordinator for GLAAD in New York City. After receipt of a bachelor’s degree in December, law school is likely to follow.
Professor of Political Science and Conflict Studies Dr. Averell Manes, who coordinates the Hancock Student Leadership Program, said, “Leah is going to go far in life. They have all the traits necessary to be an important national leader in our country. They are highly intelligent, disciplined, self-reflective and tenacious. Their integrity and community conscience are unparalleled, and their desire to lead and bring change is only matched by their determination to do so. I am privileged to know them and will watch their career with glee.”
Western Connecticut State University changes lives by providing all students with a high-quality education that fosters their growth as individuals, scholars, professionals and leaders in a global society. Our vision: To be widely recognized as a premier public university with outstanding teachers and scholars who prepare students to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.