Our Light is for Everyone

At Valpo, we are proud to say our light is for everyone. But what does that mean in today’s cultural context?

It means that as Beacons, we are called to reflect God’s light. Grounded in humility and compassion, we lead our communities through advocacy and service, helping to bring a brighter future for all into view — including those of different backgrounds, cultures, faith traditions, and identities. 

Although there is always work to be done to translate this saying into practice, we proudly celebrate the individuals within our community who have led the charge, specifically for our LQBTQ+ community — individuals like Gideon Litherland ’12, PhD., Assistant Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Angela Vidal-Rodriguez, Ph.D., Residential Learning Coordinator Sarah Rasing, M.Ed., and Demira Hunter ’25, current president of Alliance, Valpo’s LGBTQ+ student-led advocacy group on campus.

Alumnus Gideon Litherland ’12, Ph.D., smiles for a photo in professional attire.

After graduating from high school in Chicago’s western suburbs, Gideon Litherland sought a smaller university experience and found a natural fit at Valpo, where both his parents were alumni. Upon arriving in 2008, he immersed himself in the transformative energy on campus, driven by a new University president and a politically charged atmosphere. Gideon became actively involved in the Student Senate, the Office of Multicultural Programs (OMP), and Alliance.

As a psychology major with a minor in social justice studies, Gideon found himself spending a significant amount of time in the OMP office. He and his friend Tia successfully campaigned for a dedicated Alliance office in the new student union, providing a crucial safe space for queer students to gather and find support in reaching out. His efforts radiated beyond physical spaces, illuminating new perspectives and advocating for inclusive conversations within Valpo’s Lutheran context. 

As an Alliance leader, Gideon forged alliances with other multicultural groups, such as the Asian American Pacific Islander Coalition (AAPIC) and the Black Student Organization (BSO), and worked tirelessly to integrate Alliance into the Office of Multicultural Programs. This involved overcoming resistance and securing administrative support, reflecting his commitment to intersectionality and solidarity. 

Post-Valpo, Gideon continued to shine his light outward and onward, earning advanced degrees at Northwestern University and Oregon State University and pursuing a career in counseling psychology. Now a faculty member at Northwestern University, he remains dedicated to fostering human potential and supporting future counselors. 

Sarah Rasing, M.Ed., smiles at an individual out of frame during FOCUS, new-student orientation.

Sarah Rasing’s journey to Valpo began with her undergraduate studies at the University of Northern Iowa, where she first immersed herself in mental health advocacy and student affairs. After completing her master’s degree in higher education leadership at Texas Christian University, Sarah sought an environment where she could contribute significantly to the LGBTQ+ community, a mission she found at Valpo. 

As a residential learning coordinator at Valpo, Sarah quickly recognized a strong need for support and advocacy within the LGBTQ+ student body. “I saw such a need here, and I thought, maybe I can do something about it,” she shares. This realization drove her to spearhead the Safe Zone training initiative on campus, a program designed to educate and foster understanding and allyship for LGBTQ+ issues.

Sarah Rasing, M.Ed., poses for a photo with three Valpo students, each smiling as they hold up various pride flags.

Despite battling imposter syndrome, Sarah’s dedication never wavered. “I felt so young and inexperienced, but the respect and support I received from students and faculty alike helped me push through those doubts,” she reflects. Her efforts have culminated in numerous training sessions, benefiting both faculty and students and fostering a more inclusive campus environment. 

Sarah’s passion for advocacy is deeply personal and rooted in her own identity and experiences. “Listening to students and understanding their experiences, both the positives and the hardships, motivated me to make a difference,” she explains. Her work and compassion radiate beyond formal training, as she actively participates in events and collaborates with the Office of Multicultural Programs to ensure ongoing support and resources for the LGBTQ+ community.

Her message to the Valpo community is clear: “There is always more work and learning to be done. If you feel alone or unsure, reach out. There are people here who want to make Valpo the right fit for you.” 

Valpo Alliance President DeMira Hunter '25 poses with a pink, purple, and blue pride flag in front of a dark blue background.

For Alliance president DeMira Hunter, joining Alliance has been a life-changing experience, offering a second home and safe space for Valpo’s queer community. DeMira first joined Alliance during their freshman year after discovering the campus organization during FOCUS, Valpo’s new-student orientation. “I had always longed for a group like this in high school and I’m so glad to have found it here at Valpo,” they share. When the opportunity arose to become an executive board member, DeMira couldn’t say yes fast enough. As president, their goal is to help Alliance grow and continue to thrive long after she’s graduated.

“I’ve known my entire life that I wanted to work with the LGBTQ+ community. It is a big part of my identity and very important to me,” DeMira says. While they originally aimed to take their career into the political sector, DeMira’s time in Alliance has inspired them to utilize their degrees — a political science and criminology double major and a communications and social work double minor — to foster student involvement and DEI initiatives in universities post-graduation.

Valpo Alliance President DeMira Hunter '25 poses for a photo among a larger group of students, an award plaque in their hands.

These individual stories of Gideon, Sarah, and DeMira speak to the collective story of our entire Valpo community in that through our shared values of humility, compassion, and advocacy, we can radiate positive change within our communities and our world — bringing a brighter future for all into view.

If you would like to get connected to any of the groups listed above or find resources available through the Office of Multicultural Programs, visit valpo.edu/multicultural.

Sarah Rasing, M.Ed., smiling at the camera in professional attire.