Mary Susman was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska. As a freshman, Mary attended a social justice and human relations camp where she came out for the first time. Soon after, she began volunteering as a Service Learning Intern at Conference for Inclusive Communities (CFIC) for two years. Mary became even more involved with her school’s Gay-Straight Alliance by serving on the Leadership Council, and she became the President of Club RISE (Resist Injustice Support Equality).
Through her work with Club RISE and CFIC, Mary led her school and community through various weeklong events. She also worked closely with teachers and administrators to increase awareness and acceptance of diversity in her school. As a senior, Mary began her involvement with GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) as a board member of GLSEN Omaha and a Student Coordinator of the National Jump Start Student Leadership Team. She brought GLSEN’s message of safe schools to the forefront of her GSA’s activities by initiating her GSA’s first Ally Week, during which she led training for teachers.
Mary also brought her focus on social justice to her school newspaper when she wrote a column on how her school’s Sociology course required all students to participate in a heterosexual marriage project.
She believes the LGBTQ community and other minority groups are often excluded from coverage or inaccurately portrayed in the media. Mary plans to be a vehicle through which voices can be heard, believing that through ethical journalism, stereotypes can be broken and inclusion can be achieved. Mary continued her activism while studying media studies and sociology at the University of California, Berkeley.