UCI Connected: Laurel Brenner

Title: Director, Gift Services for University Advancement

Volunteer/charity organization name: UCI Counseling Center’s LGBTQ Mentoring Program

How do you give back? The mentoring program connects LGBTQ students with our LGBTQ faculty, staff and students who serve as mentors to provide support for those who are exploring their identities, are in the process of coming out (or who can’t come out), or who are trying to find community. Over the last couple of years, I have had three different mentees who have each participated in the program for differing reasons. Meeting weekly with my mentee gives them a forum to ask questions or talk through any aspect of their LGBTQ identity in a casual, nonjudgmental setting. Our goal is to help mentees challenge internalized negative messages and misinformation about LGBTQ people from peers, family, social institutions and the mass media. As a mentor, I can be a real world example of an LGBTQ adult, share my own experiences, serve as a sounding board, be a resource for information, and provide a safe place for exploration.

Tell us about why this cause matters to you: This cause matters to me because as much as “visibility matters,” not having anyone to talk to about your LGBTQ identity can be very isolating. I am so happy to contribute to the UCI student community in this positive and very personalized way. For many LGBTQ college students, this is a time in their life when their identity is taking shape and they may feel alone, isolated or confused about how to come to terms with who they are or how to become an out member of the LGBTQ community.

How can others get involved? The program is always looking for mentors in the UCI community! Any LGBTQ-identified faculty, staff or student can apply to become a mentor by contacting the program’s coordinator Carolyn O’Keefe at cokeefe@uci.edu or LGBT.mentors@uci.edu.


Are you a faculty or staff member who lives to volunteer and give back? Do you have a coworker who spends their weekends helping others? Tell us about the organizations you love and the people who inspire you! Email the UCI ZOTline editor at zotline@uci.edu to be featured in an upcoming issue.