Cassie Butch ’23 is an Activist
The Rainbow Award winner is working to make Bentley even more welcoming for LGBTQ+ students
(Above: Cassie Butch with her Bentley Rainbow Award. Photo by Kevin Maguire.)
Cassie Butch ‘23 lives by a simple philosophy: Create safe and welcoming spaces so that people can feel accepted by others and live their authentic lives. She has helped do just that at Bentley, particularly when it comes to LGBTQ+ students.
“I know that I never would have come out to those around me, or even internally to myself, if not for the support I received from my friends,” Butch says of opening up about her queer identity. One of her closest high school friends started the first LGBTQ+ organization (a gay-straight alliance) at their school. “Encouragement like this created welcoming spaces and allowed me to truly accept myself and be aware of my identity. I hope to make Bentley that kind of welcoming environment where not only are students unafraid to come out, but they are also encouraged to do so.”
LGBTQ+ activism has always interested Butch, but she didn’t focus on it until coming to Bentley. “I came out to my immediate family during my senior year of high school -- I actually didn’t come out to my dad until a couple days before leaving for college -- and while they had always known I was an LGBTQ+ ally, it was a bit difficult to be open about my support for the LGBTQ+ community.”
That has since changed. Butch, who is co-president of Bentley’s PRIDE (People Respecting Individuality and Diversity through Education) student group, recently received the university’s Rainbow Award for her LGBTQ+ activism on campus. The annual award recognizes those who demonstrate courage by taking a public stand in support of Bentley's LGBTQ+ population.
Rainbow Luncheon Celebrates LGBTQ+ Community
“PRIDE operates with two primary goals, both centered on making a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community,” Butch says. “First, we try to make PRIDE an inclusive and welcoming community through our meetings, mentor program and other initiatives to show LGBTQ+ students and allies they have a place on campus. Second, we try to expose the larger Bentley community to issues faced by queer people and try to educate and raise awareness through events.”
Butch has worked closely with Dorothy Polatin MBA ‘17, student programs manager in Bentley’s Gender and Sexuality Student Programs Office, on PRIDE events such as the LGBTQ+ Summer Events Series, Drag Bingo and Guess the Straight Person, as well as monthly open forums and alumni networking nights. She also launched the first PRIDE Mentor Program and has been working to organize a diversity parade with the Black United Body student organization.
“Cassie really goes above and beyond to support PRIDE, Gender and Sexuality Student Programs, and the LGBTQIA+ community at Bentley,” Polatin says. “She is always seeking to partner with people, and her ambitious and organized nature makes things happen on campus. I am so grateful to be able to work with her. Her passion helps fuel my passion.”
United at Bentley
This past summer, in collaboration with the LGBTQ+ Steering Committee, Butch helped organize “PRIDE Was a Protest: Reflections on Queer Activism,” which was held to raise awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement and its similarities to PRIDE. She says that working with Black United Body helps to “show the importance of diversity of all kinds and that all groups support each other when faced with adversity.”
In addition to her work for PRIDE, Butch serves on the executive boards of Students Advocating Gender Equality and the Mathematical Sciences Club. She holds a leadership role in Alpha Psi Omega, the national theater honor society. An Actuarial Science and Business Studies major with a minor in Data Technologies, Butch has passed the first (of 10) actuarial science certification exams and completed two internships.
This summer, Butch interned in the insurance department at Verisk Analytics, where she wrote a report on the insurance market for the shared mobility industry, which includes ride-sharing and autonomous vehicles. She’s already landed an actuarial internship for next summer with the global insurance company Axa XL near her home an hour west of Philadelphia. “I’ve always enjoyed math,” she says, “and I think that what interests me most about actuarial science is that you can take a large amount of data and be able to not only draw meaningful conclusions from it, but also communicate those conclusions to others and use data to institute change.”