The LGBT Resource Center at Weber State University featured Kate Kendell for the inaugural Marquardt Peace and Possibility speaker series on March 23. Kendell addressed the over 130 individuals in attendance during a lecture held in Ballroom A inside the Shepherd Union building.

Kate Kendell was the first in her family to go to college, where she began her career at WSU. Kendell later earned her law degree at the University of Utah. Kendell has been with the National Center for Lesbian Rights for 21 years and would go on to become the executive director.

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Keynote speaker of the March 23 Marquardt Peace and Possibility Speakers Series Kate Kendell, Weber State alum and Executive Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. (Joshua Wineholt / The Signpost)

Tears welled up in Kendell’s eyes as she explained that Weber State made her believe that anything was possible.

Kendell discussed how individuals can stand up for what they believe in and not become bystanders. She said that an individual living authentically is a form of activism.

“To by stand is to be complicit in the harm that will be done,” said Kendell. “Diversity is not something to fear but something to encourage.”

Kendell shared her experience with the audience about coming out to her mother and how important parental acceptance can be. She also explained the importance and admitted her personal difficulty with having conversations with people that think differently but highlighted the significance of being willing to have those conversations.

The event also highlighted four WSU students who were the finalists for the Essay Writing Competition held by the LGBT Resource Center.

Jalen Carpenter won a $500 scholarship. Andrew Crookston, Cody Brown and Kestin Page received a $100 scholarship.

Jayson Stokes, coordinator of the LGBT Resource Center, explained that the Marquardt Peace and Possibility speaker series is provided through an endowment created for the resource center by Jane and Tami Marquardt.

“The purpose of the Marquardt Peace and Possibility Speakers Series is to bring high-profile LGBTQ leaders and advocates to the University to provide cultural opportunities, to enhance the welcomeness and inclusion on campus and to cultivate the ally community,” said Stokes.

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Kate Kendell, center-right, addresses attendees of the Marquardt Peace and Possibilty Speaker Series on March 23. Kendell, the keynote speaker, serves as the Executive Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. (Joshua Wineholt / The Signpost)

The audience was invited to attend a reception in the Hurst Center at 3 p.m. After the lecture ended, there was a lunch held in the Senate chambers. Organizers encouraged students to RSVP, and the students who attended were able to ask Kendell questions in a private setting.

Bret Alexander, a sophomore studying political science, explained that the lunch was an occasion to ask Kendell for personal advice and insight.

“The lecture impacted me in a very inspiring way,” said Alexander. “I felt like I could live authentically and encourage others to do so as well.”

Alexander shared that the event taught him that everyone has a different story.

“It motivated me to stand by people I care about in weakness and strength,” said Alexander. “Show love to everyone because we are all created different and fair.”

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