Growing up in a small, suburban town outside of Winston-Salem, North Carolina that put a large emphasis on “traditional” family values and heteronormativity, Tyler Kissinger realized that he did not fit into the role that was expected of him by his family. As a result, he drew in and focused on academics to avoid confrontation about issues of sexuality. To escape this environment in which he had to mask a part of himself, Tyler transferred to the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM), a public, residential high school located in Durham, NC. At NCSSM, Tyler pursued a number of academic and personal interests that he did not have the ability to pursue at his previous school, such as the NASA Balloonsat High Altitude Flight competition, in which he led a team that designed and carried out a NASA-funded experiment. He completed another long-term research project on the statistics of supernova neutrino detection with a professor at Duke University. Tyler’s LGBTQ community activities have included serving as the copresident of his school’s Spectrum Gay-Straight Alliance, and as the director of a group working to start a nonprofit that will organize a network of families in the Durham area willing to provide homeless LGBTQ youth with a safe and accepting home. In 2012, he dedicated a significant amount of time to fight against an anti-same-sex marriage amendment to the North Carolina State Constitution. Tyler’s advocacy work has been recognized by his high school, and he received its “Golden Cupola” award for his leadership, citizenship, and community service. Tyler plans to study public policy at the University of Chicago, and hopes to one day become a university professor.