Imagine getting a new job in a new city, prepping and moving during a pandemic, then arriving to a quarantine that restricts movements, meeting new people, and simply doing your job.
Tegra Myanna doesn’t have to imagine. They have lived it since being hired as the new director of the LGBTQIA Resource Center at Georgia Tech, and executing the whole transition from the Twin Cities to the Big Peach in the COVID-19 Era.
“Buying and selling a home can be stressful and the pandemic really added to that stress,” they told Project Q. “Having to go on the market in early March and then again in mid-March (our initial buyer backed out because of the pandemic) was scary because we were having to have open houses and house tours right as the stay-at-home order was enacted in Minnesota.”
Once in Atlanta, the unique issues continued, but they provided opportunities to learn and grow for Myanna and their wife, they said.
“Getting set-up in Georgia has also been challenging with so many public offices closed and available by appointment only,” they said. “For us, not having a printer at home really made getting set-up here difficult and reminded me to be mindful of what assumptions I’m making as we identify ways of changing our services during this time.”
For students, faculty and anyone in LGBTQ Atlanta living out the new abnormal at home, we asked Myanna some questions about their new life here and their role at Georgia Tech — both now and in an as-yet-undefined quarantine-free future.
What is the role of Tech’s LGBTQIA Resource Center?
The Resource Center serves as the main hub on campus for faculty, staff, students and alumni who are interested in LGBTQIA issues. This includes members of the LGBTQIA community but also the larger campus community as well. Many come to our center looking for support, community, education or resources. We also hope to be a place of connection between Georgia Tech and local LGBTQIA based companies, non-profits, and community groups.
Tell us a bit of history about you that sets you up to tackle the Georgia Tech job.
I’ve been working in higher education for a little over 10 years and spent much of that time serving communities as an LGBTQIA support staff. I and those that I work with, bring with us more than an LGBTQIA identity, so I try and make my work and services intersectional.
At Tech, I hope to continue collaborations with other departments to enhance all of our work and make connections that extend beyond the campus to lessen the separation typically felt between college campuses and the local community.
What do you see as challenges at the university, and goals for your position?
My main goal right now is to get connected to and building relationships with the Tech and Atlanta communities. This is also a current challenge.
I’ve entered into the position working remotely and will likely be entering the fall semester still social distancing. We aren’t yet sure what the lasting impacts of this pandemic will be, and I’m sure it will have a lasting impact on our work.
Other goals that I have are expending our reach to graduate students and alumni and continuing the education and advocacy work that has already been achieved.
How is Atlanta treating you so far?
Sadly, I don’t think I can say we’ve experienced a lot of Atlanta as of yet, but we are enjoying our new neighborhood and neighbors. My wife and I had close ties to our neighborhood in St. Paul, and leaving that community was hard for both of us, so we’ve been appreciating how welcoming our new neighbors have been.
What are some of your personal interests, and what is something about you that often surprises people to find out?
Personal interests are reading, gardening, pet parenting and dog parking. I’m a big fan of conversations that go off on tangents and a huge foodie (I basically eat everything and am excited to see what Atlanta has to offer).
Because of my work, most people are surprised to find out that I didn’t “know” that I was queer until my early twenties.
How can students find you/reach you during and after the pandemic lockdowns?
Students, but this goes for anyone, are welcome to send me an email or give me a call to set-up an appointment. Right now, I’m meeting with folks virtually, but will be open to face-to-face interactions once it is safer to do that.
Send Tegra Myanna an e-mail, and contact the LGBTQIA Resource center at 404-385-4780. Find the center on Facebook, or at their website. When it’s safer to visit the office again, it's located at 353 Ferst Drive, Suite 140, on the Georgia Tech campus.