Graduate student Dani Zinn, of Shippensburg University’s Pride Center, spends a large part of her time inspiring students to advocate for others, as well as themselves.
Zinn, 24, is a graduate student in SU’s counseling program through the college student personnel track. She donates her time to act as interim director for the Pride Center while she completes graduate school.
She completed her first two years of undergraduate at Penn State Altoona before transferring to to the university’s main campus to complete a major in psychology and a minor in sociology.
The SU graduate student declared a sociology minor because she took so many women’s and gender classes as electives, which doubled as sociology classes.
“My adviser said that I was one class away from minoring in it (sociology). I said, ‘Why not? Sure,’” Zinn said.
Zinn explained how her experience at Penn State was different than her time at SU.
“Just like the difference not only in myself, but also how comfortable I am within my identity and the growth there, but also my growth professionally,” Zinn said.
As an undergraduate student, it was a completely different story.
She said that she would go to class, go home, go to work, back home and back to class. However, Zinn wanted her experience as a graduate student to be different.
“Activities outside of academics are important and looking back on it I wish I had been more involved,” she said.
Zinn said her family traveled a lot while she was growing up because her father was in the U.S. Marine Corps. She explained that when she got to college as an undergraduate student, she did not travel because she wanted to stay in one place.
Zinn described her mother and father as her biggest inspirations.
“I am the first born so they put a lot of pressure on me. So, I think that pushes me and inspires me to the best that I possibly can,” she said.
Zinn’s parents did not experience the traditional college lifestyle because her father joined the Marine Corps, she said.
Zinn’s father was in the Marine Corps for 22 years. She spent a lot of her childhood traveling from state-to-state with her two younger siblings.
“We would move around every two to four years, and I think that was the largest hardship of my life, because it was easier when I was younger. As you get older, it gets harder and harder to make friends, especially when you hit those middle school years,” Zinn said.
Zinn went Shippensburg High School to finish her sophomore year all the way to her senior year, where she graduated in 2009.
Zinn talked about how close her family is, especially when they traveled and how it was them against the world. Her family would call themselves “The Z Five,” and found the idea of home within each other.
Zinn said that she has come a long way and is proudly a member of the LGBT community. She spends most of her time helping with SU’s Pride Center, located in the Ceddia Union Building. The Pride Center is open as a resource center and safe haven to all LGBT members of the SU community, as well as the community’s allies.