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Hillary Montague-Asp

Interviewed by: Nicole Dotzenrod
Posted: 10/06/2014

University of Massachusetts Amherst doctorate student, instructor in the College of Education, and Graduate Assistant/Assistant Director at Stonewall Center, Hillary Montague-Asp is as well rounded as she sounds.

Montague-Asp was raised in a small, conservative suburb of Boulder, Colorado, with modest dreams for her future.
“As a kid I wanted to be a cashier so I could have fake nails that clicked on the keys – I only played with cash registers,” she said in a recent interview.

As a high school student, Montague-Asp began her career of student organizing when she formed the Gay-Straight Alliance, creating a safe space for LGBT students.

“There was not a lot of diversity in my life anywhere growing up,” she said.

It wasn’t until Montague-Asp attended college at the University of Colorado at Boulder that she realized how much where she was raised had blinded her about the world, and how difficult high school was for her being gay in such a conservative area.

“I didn’t realize how unpleasant high school was for me until I was a senior in college when I wrote a reflection of my high school experience. I was met with a lot of horrible resistance in high school, but I had an amazing support system and we got through it together and that lead to where I am now,” she said.

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Stephen Margelony-Lajoie

Interviewed by Nicole Dotzenrod
Posted: 10/09/2014

What began as a childhood interest in performing and writing short stories has developed into a passion that led University of Massachusetts senior Stephen Margelony-Lajoie to travel to Oxford, and to begin writing his own book reflecting on his difficult childhood, and how the challenges he faced have shaped who he is today.

The English major from Sturbridge, MA grew up doing a lot of theater and performing in general, including singing, acting, and writing.

“I started writing short stories and they were really terrible,” he said of his beginning in writing. “In third grade I had to read out a short story because my teacher liked it. That really made me want to pursue writing.”

Margelony-Lajoie attended Tantasqua Regional High School, where he began writing for the high school paper and singing in the chorus. His piano instructor and vocal coach Mrs. Costello, encouraged him to accompany the chorus on a trip to Spain and Portugal to perform when Margelony-Lajoie was a sophomore, which spurred his interest in traveling. Later, he joined the show choir directed by Costello.

“I’d be at the school from 7 a.m. and practices would start at 4 or 5 and sometimes end at 10 p.m.,” he said. “It was a competitive schedule.”

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Previously on Spotlight

Stephen Margelony-Lajoie