GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Claire Murashima, Calvin University’s first openly gay student body president, says she wants students like her to realize they’re not alone.

“I just wanted people to see students at Calvin or just kids growing up in the CRC that if they are lesbian, gay, bisexual there is representation and they’re not alone,” said Murashima. “Really what I wanted to do it for was just to increase representation of the queer community. We’d never had a student body president who was queer before.”

Murashima grew up in California and North Carolina. She said she chose Calvin University — where she was elected as the student body president for this past school year — because she wanted a breath of fresh air.

“I went to a pretty big public high school; it was pretty liberal, and I’ve always been intrigued by just going to a private school because I’d never done that,” Murashima said. “When I got into Calvin I felt pulled to go there and just experience something really different and also live in the Midwest where I’d never lived. It’s been a great experience. I’ve really liked being able to connect with my faith and meet so many people and ask questions fearlessly.”

Murashima says she realized during her role as student body president that she wants to pursue journalism. She’d like to get an internship in Washington, D.C. This summer she is working on freelance journalism.

“There are so many ways to make change. Becoming part of institutions or just holding them accountable in other ways. I really see my part of the story as sharing my story, continuing to share other stories and I hope to do that through journalism,” she said.

She hopes other LGBTQ students will step up at Calvin University and represent the community in leadership roles.

“There are so many queer students at Calvin. They’re in your classes, they’re in your dorms,” she said.

She would also like to thank her fellow students for allowing her to serve as president and the great conversations and support she’s received.

“Even if people hold a more traditional stance on marriage, I’ve just been met with so much kindness at Calvin.”