Commencement 2016: Computer science student finds a home, friends, career at URI

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KINGSTON, R.I., May 10, 2016—When Elizabeth Koller transferred to the University of Rhode Island to study computer science, she was alone. She had no friends and didn’t belong to any student groups.


One day, she noticed a sign on campus advertising a “Big Gay Picnic.” She wandered into the LGBTQ event and offered to help. She made table decorations.


Her life changed in an instant.


“Everyone was so friendly and enthusiastic,” she says. “I knew I had found the place I wanted to be.”


That same day, Annie Russell, center director, offered her a job as creative marketing specialist for the LGBTQ Center—now called the Gender and Sexuality Center.


It’s been three years, and Koller is still coordinating the center’s Facebook page and other social media sites “to spread a message of acceptance and inclusion” on campus and beyond.