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Newcastle alumnus shortlisted in inaugural Queer Student Awards

Newcastle alumnus shortlisted in inaugural Queer Student Awards

16 June 2021

A former Newcastle University graduate has been shortlisted as Role Model of the Year in the inaugural Queer Student Awards.

Zander Godden (BA Media, Communications and Cultural Studies, 2019), is one of ten people shortlisted in the category, recognising LGBTQ+ students and allies who are proudly leading in their lives and the communities around them.

To celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride Month, we chatted to Zander about their time at Newcastle University and the work they’re doing now to support the community.

Since graduating in 2019, I’ve been working at Northumbria Students’ Union as their Campaigns and Representation Coordinator. My day-to-day activities typically involve supporting our academic student volunteers - that’s over 1,000 programme and leadership representatives, student council, PhD students and more! I lead on our training content, plan student-facing campaigns related to education and EDI matters, organise our annual Rep Awards (which saw its highest ever number of nominations this year!) and create the digital content for my team’s Blackboard organisation and NSU Education Facebook page. 

Being open about being queer and non-binary with my work colleagues and students helps to both challenge people’s perception of gender and could also inspire other young people to discover their own identities as well. University really helped me to find myself, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without the encouragement from my friends and the staff at Newcastle University Students’ Union.

For me, Pride is an act of resistance. I think it’s very easy for some groups to look at the landmark achievements made for the LGBTQ+ community in the past decade and feel like we have reached equality for all, but we truly haven’t. Pride has and always will be about queer liberation. Having this time of year to be loud and proud is pivotal to remind those against us that we aren’t going away.

How can we say the LGBTQ+ community is accepted in this country when conversion therapy has yet to be banned? When transphobic abuse has skyrocketed thanks to media scaremongering and TERF groups? When non-binary people still have no legal or medical recognition? When queer couples are physically assaulted on public transport? These issues become more complex when you consider the intersections of race, religion, disability, age and/or marital status.

Pride is a time to both celebrate the work of the LGBTQ+ activists who came before us to fight for our rights, and for us to continue their work through education, entertainment and political activism. 

Outside of work, I volunteer on the Steering Committee for Get Ahead, Disability Rights UK's magazine and newsletter brand, which is co-produced with and for disabled young people. Get Ahead provides information and resources on post-16 options that are available in education, training and work. I have both autism and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, so having this outlet is great to help young people like myself find out their options, and to educate others about what it’s like having invisible disabilities. 


The Queer Student Awards are judged by a panel of student recruitment industry experts, queer influencers and young people from schools, colleges and universities across the UK. The awards are a great opportunity to showcase commitments to creating inclusive workplaces for young LGBTQ+ people, and to celebrate the achievements of apprentices, graduates and allies supporting them in their transition into the workplace.

Winners will be announced at a virtual ceremony on 1 July. Good luck Zander!


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