November 2, 2023
Samantha Usman, graduate student in Astronomy & Astrophysics, has been awarded the inaugural LGBTQ+ Community Engagement Award from UChicago Alumni Pride and the University of Chicago Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality. This award recognizes exceptional contributions that advance and support the interests of the LGBTQ+ community.
In a speech at the Center’s Outstanding Speaker event on Nov. 2, 2023, Center Faculty Director Daisy Delogu praised Usman as “a dedicated advocate and leader, first in her master’s program at Cardiff University, where she organized a speaker event in celebration of the 1st International LGBT+ in STEM Day, and at UChicago where she has served as a role model for other queer students and as a mentor to undergraduate and graduate women through the Women and Gender Minorities in Physics group, and the PSD’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Mentorship Programs. Samantha has further demonstrated her deep commitment to fostering community among LGBTQ+ students beyond her own academic orbit. In the autumn of 2020, the dark days of Covid, Samantha founded the UChicago Plus (UChicago+) Discord Server, creating a much-needed peer-led forum for queer students across the University to connect with and support one another. UChicago+ has since held frequent in-person social events, discussions, and meet-ups. In addition, it serves as a sounding board and point of connection for questioning students, who can interact anonymously if they choose. UChicago+ is now a flourishing RSO (Registered Student Organization) and a Q-Group under LGBTQ Student Life. The LGBTQ+ Community Engagement Award selection committee, comprised of UChicago alumni and staff members, was deeply impressed by Samantha’s work within STEM, her efforts beyond the Physical Sciences, and her commitment to community-building both on and off campus. Samantha has demonstrated exceptional leadership and made numerous contributions to advance and support the interests of the LGBTQ+ community at UChicago, within her academic and professional field, and beyond.”