Scholar Class – 2011
Erika Turner grew up her mother and sister in the suburbs of Las Vegas. While in high school, she was surprised to discover that two of her closest friends identified as queer. Their love and support was key in her acceptance of herself as queer. Though her father, step-parents and older sister were supportive of her sexual orientation, her mother found it hard to accept. She feared that Erika's sexuality, coupled with her gender and race, might hinder her ability to succeed academically and professionally.
Undeterred, Erika became a leader in her school newspaper and earned over twenty writing awards for her journalistic and creative writing endeavors from sophomore to senior year. She graduated Liberty High School as one of the top students in her class. Upon entering college, she grew more interested in social justice issues and became the sex and sexuality chair of Wellesley's once-homophobic black social organization, Ethos. After interning with Queer Women of Color and Friends (QWOC+) over the summer and forming a close bond with her supervisor and mentor, Adaora Asala, she returned to Wellesley for a second year as the co-sex and sexuality chair of Ethos and formed blackOUT, a social and support group for queer and questioning students of African descent. Erika spent her junior year at Japan Women's University and Waseda University's School of International Liberal Studies. She continued working with Ethos and blackOUT while abroad and will continue to do so upon returning to the States for her senior year. She is also working on a blog dedicated to the experiences of black and queer students abroad. With her passion for writing and social justice, Erika hopes to enter the professional world of mainstream media to help increase and diversify the visibility of LGBTQ people and people of color. Her mother is extremely proud of her.