buildOn Trek Specialist Andrea Bedoya on Trek building a school

The Joy of Being Authentically You: Pride Month

By Andrea Bedoya

As Pride Month comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on my own journey as a member of the queer community. I have graduated from acceptance to fully embracing my complete self. My journey to this point has been a winding one, filled with moments of doubt, discovery, but ultimately, growth and joy.

When I first started out in my career with buildOn, I was still navigating my identity, as fully accepting my queerness took time. Over time, I’ve come to learn that being true to myself is not just liberating; it’s empowering and necessary. It allows me to bring my whole and authentic self to work, creating a more inclusive environment for the students and communities I’m honored to work with.

Working with students at buildOn has been instrumental in my journey. They have taught me so much about courage, resilience, and the power of authenticity. I often joke that I should say I’m their student, and not vice versa. Their fearlessness and determination to create spaces where everyone feels welcomed have inspired me beyond measure. 

It’s a privilege to wake up every day knowing that a big portion of my job involves supporting and learning from these incredible young minds. Together, we’re building a culture that celebrates diversity in all its forms–not just by talking about inclusivity, but by actively shaping it, one initiative at a time.

Pride Month serves as a vital reminder of how far we’ve come and how much further we have to go. It’s a time to celebrate victories, honor struggles, and recommit ourselves to the ongoing fight for equality. For me, it’s a personal celebration of growth and self-acceptance that found itself intertwining with my professional life. As I look ahead to my future at buildOn, I am filled with hope and determination. I want to continue learning from the youth I work with and advocating for a world where everyone can thrive as their authentic selves. Together, we’re continuing to build a more inclusive future.

So this Pride Month, I celebrate not only how far I’ve come, but also the community that continues to inspire and uplift me. I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of an organization that strives for inclusivity by committing itself to using education and service to create positive change. Here’s to embracing queerness, both personally and professionally, and working towards a future where everyone can proudly and safely exist. Happy Pride!

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