McDaniel graduate joins Obamas for LGBT Pride celebration

June 22, 2011

A 2011 Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude graduate of McDaniel will join the President and Mrs. Obama at the White House on June 29 for the culminating celebration of Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month.


Mariya "Masha" Makhlyagina's advocacy and educational efforts on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students on college campuses earned her the prestigious invitation as well as a spot among 12 finalists for the Voice & Action National Leadership Award of the national organization Campus Pride.


If I get to represent McDaniel in some way, that's exciting to me, Makhlyagina says, explaining that as a recent graduate she feels intense loyalty to the college.


Graduation aside, Makhlyagina, a Psychology major from Reisterstown, Md., returns to the Hill June 23 with other members of the chapter of the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN) to present at the Education That is Mulicultural/ English for Speakers of Other Languages (ETM/ESOL) Summer Institute ( The program for the day will focus on building safe environments for all students, regardless of race, ethnicity, cultural background, physical and mental ability, religion, etc.


Our group, GLSEN, will specifically be focusing on the LGBT facet of bullying, she says, adding that the presentations fit perfectly with GLSENs mission in that it focuses on advocating for safe spaces within schools for students who are LGBTQQIASP (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, and Pansexual) by hosting support groups, educating student leaders and allies at all levels of the education system.


The first presentation will focus on real-time intervention strategies educators can use with their colleagues and with students, while the second will focus on theoretical and higher education models for addressing harassment situations and classroom climate, she says.


With law school on her horizon, Makhlyagina hopes to become more knowledgeable about human rights law, extending her outreach work beyond the LGBT community to help immigrants, homeless populations, and racially tense climates.


I think that entering the law realm will provide me with a better understanding of the bigger systems of which my community work is a part and allow me to address changes that need to be made on a larger scale, such as delving into policies that directly affect the populations that I cherish so much, she says.


Click here to watch the It Gets Better video, which is among the new, creative projects Makhlyagina helped pioneer with members of the campus Allies group.