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Law alumna recognized for being a leader, educator

Loyola press release - September 4, 2012

Recent Loyola University New Orleans College of Law alumna, Michelle Garcia ’09, J.D. ’12, is the recipient of the 2012 Student Leadership Award from the National LGBT Bar Association. Garcia will be presented the award, which is the organization’s highest honor for law students, at a special reception in Washington, D.C. this weekend.

The National LGBT Bar Association is a national association of lawyers, judges and other legal professionals, law students, activists and affiliated lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender legal organizations.

As a first-year law student at Loyola, Garcia created Loyola’s first Lambda Law Alliance, a private, non-partisan student organization designed to foster a welcoming environment to all students regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or associational preference.

“I am very humbled by the honor and excited to be traveling to Washington, D.C. to accept the award. There is still so much work that needs to be done to strengthen the LGBT community in New Orleans and at Loyola, so I am incredibly grateful that this award will bring visibility to the LGBT community and Lambda in particular,” Garcia said.

When Garcia began at the College of Law, she noticed there were several diversity student groups for first-year law students, but none were specifically for LGBT students.

“There were students before me who had been trying to start an LGBT group at the College of Law, but things had been progressing slowly so I wanted to help get the group officially started. I wanted to be involved in helping the local LGBT community and I believe strongly that if you want something to change, why not change it yourself?,” Garcia said.

Part of Garcia’s work with the Lambda Law Alliance involved helping form partnerships with other organizations in Louisiana and the New Orleans area like AIDSLaw, Tobacco-Free Living, the NO/AIDS Task Force and the local LGBT Community Center.

Garcia’s work in promoting LGBT equality expanded past the borders of Loyola’s campus as well. As a volunteer with the Louisiana Office of Public Health, she saw an opportunity for Lambda members to take advantage of resources available in the area.

Along with Tulane Medical School and other LGBT student groups in New Orleans, Garcia held LGBT Health Week in order to promote long-term growth for the LGBT community. She remains active in the city, creating service opportunities for her peers on prevention of sexually transmitted infections and AIDSLaw.

“STI prevention in Louisiana remains a critical public health concern, so Lambda has forged alliances with local groups to help with testing, fundraising and community outreach. This fall semester Lambda will participate in the annual fundraising NO/AIDS walk,” Garcia said.

For more information, contact James Shields in the Office of Public Affairs at 504-861-5888 or jshields@loyno.edu.

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