Ansley Pope Photos by Landon Neil Phillips

Ansley Pope
Photos by Landon Neil Phillips

Ansley Pope, a Women’s and Gender Studies major and a member of the Bonner Leader program at the College of Charleston, has been named one of CHARLIE magazine’s 50 Most Progressive.

Read CHARLIE profile of Ansley Pope, written by Evans Craddock.

As a transgender male and African American, Pope tells CHARLIE that he has encountered discrimination due to his race and sexual orientation but always strives to be a “transformer” and a force for change.

The College Today caught up with Pope to learn more about his time at the College and to find out what being progressive means to him.

Q: What made you decide to attend the College of Charleston?

A: When I was deciding on colleges to attend, my top priorities were to find a small, diverse campus and a place where I could develop and grow. Whilst the College of Charleston has a way to go in regards to creating a more diverse and inclusive community, I can say that the College has allowed me to gain many personal and professional skills that I do not believe I would have gotten at any other institution. I am grateful for the smaller size of the College, there are many connections I have with the faculty, staff, and student body here that I would not trade for the world. The Bonner Leader Program was the ultimate deciding factor on whether or not I was going to come to the College of Charleston.

Q: Tell us about your experience with the Bonner Leader Program?

A: The Bonner Leader Program (BLP) is a four-year leadership and development program. Bonners are a diverse group of students who are committed to serving in and with the community in order to gain personal and professional skills. Bonner Leaders do at least 300 hours of community service at a non-profit that we are passionate about working with each academic year. We educate ourselves on social justice issues in order to relate it back to the work we do in the Charleston community. We also have the opportunity to travel in order to gain an international perspective. Through my three (almost four) years as a Bonner Leader, I have committed over 400 hours to Girls Rock Charleston, the organization I work with, and have traveled on several Alternative Break (AB) experiences through the Center for Civic Engagement.

While I have been on many AB experiences outside of the BLP, I have had the privilege of immersing myself in Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., and Cuba through Bonner. This Program has played an integral part of my time here at the College. It has and continues to give me space to be my authentic self, to grow, to make mistakes, and to succeed.

Q: What does being progressive mean to you and how do you live up to that ideal?

50-most-progressive-2015A: Progressive… to break that down, it means a connection to progress; it is an attempt to keep myself from being stagnant and challenging others to do the same. I refuse to stop learning, to stop growing, to stop moving. In order to create change, we must be that force. I think being a Women’s and Gender Studies major has enlightened me to learn from and immerse myself in the words of wonderful white, black, queer, trans, radical feminists. I think that through my major I’m able to continue to strive to push progress. Through my work with Girls Rock Charleston and Bonner Leader Program I am able to be progressive. That’s the thing about being progressive, it’s not a personal thing, it’s a collective thing; my comrades, fellow activists, friends and family help shape the progress we make.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: That’s a common question that so many people dread. I think that regardless of what I do post undergrad, I will continue to be an advocate for marginalized groups of people through my activist work. I think that it has been an integral part of my time here at the College, and I’m so grateful for all of the people, organizations and opportunities I’ve been granted both in and out of the College. My progressiveness starts and ends with them and I would not be who I am today with out them. In the words of Che Guevara, “Hasta la Victoria, Siempre.”

Learn more about the College’s Bonner Leader Program.