Students You Should Know: David Pope
"Before I came to UNI, I was painfully shy," said David Pope, a junior political communication major. For those who know Pope today, as an active and outgoing student leader at UNI, that might be hard to believe.
Originally from Clear Lake, Iowa, Pope describes his small hometown as "very Midwest."
Pope, along with members of UNI Proud and the campus community, participate in the Pride Week Pride and Progress March.
"I was more repressed and I was more sheltered," he said. "There weren't enough moments that really got me outside of my comfort zone in order for me to grow."
That changed when Pope came to UNI. "Coming to UNI really got me outside of my comfort zone," he said. "I think I've grown more in the three years that I've been at UNI than I did in many years of living in Clear Lake."
Pope credits UNI for not only providing him with the confidence to become active and involved, but also with helping him find out exactly what he wanted to be involved in.
"Before I came to UNI, the seeds of my current beliefs had been planted, but it was really classes at UNI that pushed my political philosophy to where it is now," he said. "It really pushed me in this sort of activist direction."
Through taking classes, such as Intro to Women's and Gender Studies and Intro to Social Work, Pope decided to major in political communication, and made an effort to be more politically active.
The effort was a great one. Pope became heavily involved with UNI Proud, UNI's LGBT student organization, and was elected to the executive board of the group during his first year at UNI. During his sophomore year, he helped develop UNI's feminist student group, UNI Feminist Action League, and began doing activist work with the Occupy Cedar Valley movement.
Today, Pope is the president of UNI Proud and is still as involved as ever, both in his activist work and on-campus extracurricular activities.
In addition to serving as president of UNI Proud, Pope serves as a Northern Iowa Student Government (NISG) senator for the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and helped create and currently serves on the LGBT Center Exploratory Committee.
"I am an openly gay, gender non-conforming student at UNI, so it's really important for me to stand up for my community and to try and empower LGBT folks here," said Pope.
However, LGBT rights isn't the only issue Pope is passionate about. He channels his passion for politics into his opinion column for the student newspaper, the Northern Iowan, where he has written many popular and controversial articles on a variety of topics, that have generated many response articles.
Pope also writes a popular style column for the Northern Iowan, "Grit 'n' Glam." While fashion may seem like a completely different topic than politics, for Pope, they're more alike than not.
Whether it's taking a stance on a political issue or making a bold fashion statement, "It's all about sticking up for yourself and what you believe," he said. "I feel like no matter what it is you're trying to accomplish, being able to speak up and have your voice heard is the first step."