Meet Our Scholars
Growing up in a conservative neighborhood in Chicago, Harper struggled with their sexuality and gender identity. When they were 13, they moved to Deerfield, Illinois, as their parents went through a traumatic divorce. It took them until the age of 15 to come out. That same year, their father disowned them. They sunk into a deep depression but eventually recovered through the support of friends and teachers. They quickly realized they had a capacity to create meaningful change in the world and decided to start with their high school. Harper became the president of Deerfield High School’s Gay Straight Alliance their junior year and spearheaded the first campaigns for gender-neutral bathrooms. Before they finished high school, they decided to expand their activism nationally and joined Trans Student Educational Resources (TSER), a youth-led nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming the educational environment for trans and gender nonconforming students through advocacy and empowerment. Since joining, Harper has risen to the role of Program Director. Harper is the first trans athlete at Bard College, where they study Global and International Studies and Gender and Sexuality Studies, and has worked to make athletics more accessible for queer and trans students. In addition to serving on the Educational Policies Committee, they are President of the Queer Student Association and Trans Life Collective clubs. As a result of their work, Bard awarded them with the Ralph Ellison Award, a prestigious privilege given to a student who has shown a dedication to eliminating discrimination in the community. Harper is also a research assistant for their adviser at Bard as well as at the World Policy Institute. After graduating, Harper plans to pursue their Ph.D. and continue their activism.