By Jennifer Palma

Jeremy Penn

By Jennifer Palma
Student leader and activist unites the LGBTQ ‘Canes community to create positive change.
Jeremy Penn with Van Bailey
Jeremy Penn with Van Bailey

As a triple major and double minor, Jeremy Penn’s academic accomplishments are certainly noteworthy. Graduating from the College of Arts and Sciences with a bachelor of science in ecosystem science and policy, applied physics, and geography with minors in LGBTQ studies and mathematics, it’s difficult to imagine that Penn had the time to serve as a student leader and change agent for the LGBTQ community.

Originally drawn to the University of Miami because of academics, the Foote Fellow balanced a rigorous academic schedule and multiple student leadership positions over the course of four years. Upon arriving to campus as a freshman, Penn knew that in addition to obtaining a stellar academic record, she also wanted be engaged on campus by joining an LGBTQ student organization. During Canefest, Penn was introduced to SpectrUM—UM’s LGBTQ+ student organization—and shortly after decided to attend the first meeting of the semester.

As a freshman, SpectrUM provided Penn with an on-campus family where she was loved and supported. The organization embraced her and served as a platform for her to voice her support and concerns for the LGBTQ ‘Canes community. In order to ensure that all LGBTQ ‘Canes had a network on campus, Penn ran for a leadership role within the organization and was adamant about creating—and expanding—an environment centered on trust, love and respect.

Throughout her time as a student, Penn remained involved with SpectrUM and served as president and treasurer of the organization. Her leadership led the way for pivotal changes on campus that would ultimately support the greater LGBTQ ‘Canes community. Penn successfully fostered connections between University leadership and students to address the growing need for an inclusive campus. As a student leader, Penn worked to create a cohesive environment within SpectrUM and urged LGBTQ students, allies and University administration to support the launch of UM’s first LGBTQ Student Center, which opened in 2016.

The LGBTQ Student Center’s opening is certainly a point of pride for Penn. As a student activist and leader, she views the Center as an essential piece of the UM community—one that will positively affect the experience of LGBTQ students—and will benefit campus as a whole. 

As Penn prepares for one chapter to close, she also looks forward to the growth of the University. In addition to expressing a positive outlook for future LGBTQ ‘Canes, she is also enthusiastic about UM President Julio Frenk’s initiatives—presented during his inauguration—which will ultimately enhance various aspects of academics and student experience for generations to come.

After graduation, Penn plans to prepare for law school with the hopes of staying in Miami to continue to create change on a campus that has become home.