Commencement Honoree Leaves Legacy of Advocacy for Classmates
By Liam Farrell
Photo by John T. Consoli
Seeing the challenges that fellow students faced before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly marginalized groups, M Pease (they/she) wanted to find ways to help at the University of Maryland.
The Gaithersburg native and nonbinary Asian American began to see how racism, transphobia, homophobia and other forms of bigotry were interconnected across identities and sought to improve students’ lives through research and advocacy.
From serving in the University Senate to working as a resident assistant, Pease did just that on the way to earning a Bachelor of Science degree with high honors in psychology, minors in Asian American studies and public leadership, and a 4.0 GPA. Today, they will be the student speaker at the Commencement ceremony for the August 2021, Winter 2021 and Spring 2022 classes.
“Seeing what we as students can accomplish toward social justice and equity gives me hope not only for the university’s future but our future as a larger society,” she said.
Pease, a member of University Honors and the First-Year Innovation and Research Experience (FIRE), took their interest in diversity, equity and inclusion into and outside the classroom. As a researcher in the Department of Psychology’s Gender, Culture and Health Laboratory and the School of Public Health’s Prevention Research Center, Pease led and supported investigations on LGBTQ+ and Asian American minority stress and mental health. Her thesis on trans mental health was published in the journal Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity.
Pease was a teaching assistant for four classes across psychology, English and Asian American studies, and a member of the APIDA Social Justice Task Force. They were also an administrative director, workshops director and peer counselor for the Help Center, providing confidential over-the-phone peer counseling and establishing an outreach program to educate the campus community.
“As time went on, M really stepped into their power,” said psychology Professor Monica Kearney, who mentored Pease as a teaching assistant. “We are so fortunate to have such an empathic and passionate student.”
Among many honors, Pease was recognized by Omicron Delta Kappa as the Col. J. Logan Schutz Leader of the Year and Gen. Russell E. Dougherty National Leader of the Year, won the 2021 Spirit of Maryland Award, and was twice named a resident assistant of the year.
Pease will continue their studies by pursuing a doctorate in counseling psychology at the University of Maryland.
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