Monthly Archives: February 2016

Creating Health and Building Community

Creating Health and Building Community

Raphael Coleman 10C 13MPH

Raphael Coleman 10C 13MPH

Raphael Coleman 10C 13MPH is the assistant director for prevention strategies with the Office of Health Promotion within Campus Life. He is an active member in GALA who understands the pulse of Emory students on campus.

The Office of Health Promotion is designed to foster healthy interaction between the university and its students. As they describe, “Students connect with our office to get involved in promoting health on campus. We advise several student organizations, interns and student volunteers who want to take action to promote positive psychology, better sleep, great sex, violence prevention, and general wellness.

Campus image courtesy of Emory Photo/Video

Campus image courtesy of Emory Photo/Video

What do you find most fascinating about your role on Emory’s campus?

We work on very important topics, but there is a strong understanding that nothing we do is done in silo. We always think about what works for Emory students when it comes to promoting health. We have a strong social justice foundation for how we approach health promotion, so we do think how our work impacts marginalized groups on campus. When we plan programming, we ask, how can we minimize some of the health disparities that may occur on campus?

Can you tell us the PrEP Clinic?

I also work in sexual health promotion to help coordinate the PrEP clinic with Student Health Services. Pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV, also known as PrEP, is available at Student Health Services. PrEP may be appropriate for some students at higher risk for contracting HIV. PrEP consists of a once-a-day medication; regular condom use; and routine medical visits with labs (usually every three months). Through this I have sexual health education conversations with students who are using PrEP. Emory is so responsive to preventive care. They took the lead with intentional conversations about sexual health, going above and beyond what might be expected. I’m glad to play a role in this important process.

You are a Double Eagle with two degrees from Emory. What surprises you most about Emory students?                                                                                                                        

I’m amazed by how Emory consistently attracts the same type of incredible student. They share a very similar passion for knowledge and for changing the world that we live in. Students are thinking beyond what they will do professionally and are already thinking about how their work can impact the world. They are brilliant, and many may already have professional focus. It’s so awesome. We have created an intellectual space for them that helps to develop innovators. Our students create their own businesses. They are very entrepreneurial whether their work is for profit or nonprofit.

Why do you think GALA is important?

It is so important to introduce our students to GALA alumni who remain connected to the campus. These alumni demonstrate their passion for Emory, they are doing great things professionally, and they also have a voice in shaping Emory’s policy. Many also do social justice work when it comes to bettering our communities.

Editor’s Note: Raph writes, “I work with faculty, staff, and students to build a healthy campus environment, particularly as it relates to changing the campus culture and climate around high-risk alcohol and other drug use. Prior to my current role, I held positions in residence life, student conduct, Greek Life, and health promotion. I am a Double Eagle, having earned a BS in NBB from Emory College and a MPH from RSPH in BSHE. When I am not at Emory, I enjoy hanging with friends or taking classes towards my PhD in College Student Affairs Administration at UGA! My hobbies include cooking, karaoke, taking road trips, and visiting local festivals!”




Meet Matt de Groot 11Ox 13B – Top Realtor in NYC

One of Matt's listings at 60 Beach Street, New York in the Meatpacking District.

One of Matt’s listings at 60 Beach Street, New York in Tribeca.

Buying and selling houses may keep the economy moving, but for individual homeowners the process can be daunting, to say the least. For real estate experts like Matthew de Groot 11Ox 13B, a residential agent whose team is ranked #3  in New York City, “Establishing a game plan begins with truly understanding the changing dynamics of the local market,” he says. “Detailed area knowledge is critical to transactional success and, more importantly, to client satisfaction.”

Matt de Groot 11Ox 13B

Matt de Groot 11Ox 13B

De Groot is the outgoing, detail oriented, dedicated Client Communication Director (CCD) at The Sukenik Team at Douglas Elliman – ranked “Top 200 Brokers Nationwide” by The Wall Street Journal. The team was also recently awarded as the #3 producing team in the city and ranked #1 in historic Tribeca. “We are privileged to close multi-million dollar real estate deals with everyone from a princess of a Middle Eastern country to box office stars,” de Groot says. “But it is equally important and fulfilling for us to meet the everyday needs of working New Yorkers and out-of-towners wanting to settle in our city. It’s the personality of our neighborhoods that makes going to work every day so exciting.”

In addition to understanding competitive pricing and financing models, de Groot digs deep into the social structure of his market. “Clients want to know exactly which celebrities live in which building, where the trendy social spots are, and what developmental changes are on the horizon,” he explains. Concentrating the majority of his business on the tight area that defines SoHo, Tribeca, and the West Village allows de Groot to specialize. “It’s my job to analyze my market and share that knowledge with clients.”

150 Charles Street in the West Village in the Meatpacking District.

150 Charles Street in the West Village in the Meatpacking District.

“Our business area represents a microcosm of New York City, with its own economy, night life, and day-to-day work-life balance,” he explains. “By understanding the intricacies of neighborhood buildings and blocks, I can better advise my clients on how to sell or choose their homes.”

Competition begins with “Eye Candy”

From both the buyer’s and the seller’s perspective, a home’s visual appeal is the first measure. “Every showing is a potential win for both buyer and seller,” de Groot says. “Make the most of every opportunity to close the sale.”

De Groot’s Advice to Sellers

  • Clean up and clean out. Evaluate your possessions with a hypercritical eye. If something isn’t absolutely necessary, does it really belong in your space? The rule of thumb is to declutter the most obvious items like magazines, books, toys, and off-season clothes, then pre-pack and store offsite an additional 25% of your belongings to create visual space. Renting a small storage space for boxes may help you sell your home faster.
  • Create utility. Once the space has been cleared, stand back and imagine yourself in the buyer’s shoes. Will the buyer clearly envision a functional workspace? Is the entertainment center well defined? Can someone imagine where coats might be hung or holiday decor placed? If not, you might need to pare back even a bit more.
  • Create walkways. Is your furniture the correct scale for your space? Are walkways clearly defined from room to room and can a buyer walk unobstructed through doorways and halls?  Creating movement and flow throughout the home is vital.
  • Create visual drama in every room. Create “eye candy.” Each space in your home has the potential for staging a bit of drama. Lifestyle magazines and Pinterest can give you great ideas for boosting visual impact in your space – without spending a lot of money. Make your home’s unique architectural features prominent, and showcase fine details.
  • Keep the house clean and smelling fresh. Nothing turns off a buyer faster than unsanitary spaces or powerful pet aromas.
  • Make showings an experience. Play soft classical music, infuse rooms with candlelight, and help buyers imagine themselves living in your space.  If you must cook in advance, baking is always an excellent choice, but avoid frying foods.
  • Be patient and be open to agent feedback. Responding to showing feedback and reevaluating marketing and pricing is an ongoing part of every listing process.

De Groot’s Advice to Buyers

  • Establish your financial limit. The biggest mistake buyers can make is overextending beyond their comfortable financial limit. Work with a financial advisor to establish your maximum monthly cash outlay, then seek mortgage pre-approval before beginning the hunt for a new home. In addition to your family’s monthly bills, remember to consider the price of a home, plus all associated expenses like taxes, monthly association dues, and parking fees.
  • Begin with a realistic wish list. Which functional home areas do you use on a daily basis? Do you need an eat-in kitchen, or will a dining space suffice? Does your work require a dedicated home office? How many bedrooms will suit your needs? Could you do with pet space or an outdoor play area?
  • Add bonus wishes to your list to define your dream home. Go ahead and add those “nice to have” items to your wish list for a dream home. If you find one listing that meets every requirement, it’s meant to be.
  • Evaluate desirable locations. Define boundaries for first, second, and third preferences, and be open to well-researched suggestions.
  • View listings with an open mind. Clutter can be cleaned. Paint color can be changed. Furnishings can be cleared out and replaced with your own. Decorating style should not deter you from seeing a property’s true potential. Evaluate architecture for future renovation and imagine beyond the items in a room.
  • Be patient during the negotiation process. Purchasing a home requires plenty of give and take, a great deal of paperwork, and patience. But the process will be worth the wait when you receive the keys to your new home and settle into your new neighborhood.

“Buying and selling real estate is the largest transaction most people will do in their lives,” de Groot explains. “Helping my clients to establish realistic expectations is key to the end result. I offer my clients a seamless experience and work to make the process as stress-free as possible. In most cases, it’s fun!”

For more photos please visit here.

Editor’s Note: Prior to joining Douglas Elliman, de Groot worked with another prominent residential real estate firm in Newport, Rhode Island. He began his career in the commercial real estate market while attending Goizueta. He also shares experience in financial planning. De Groot and his partner Justin Brasington 11Ox 13B,  marketing and insights manager for Dollar Shave Club, are living bi-coastal between NYC and Los Angeles – going on 7 years since meeting freshman year at Emory. 

Letter from GALA-NY Chair

GALA-NY hosted its first happy hour of 2016, returning to Boxer’s Sports Bar in Hell’s Kitchen. Registration started slow thanks to the holiday hangover, but – thanks to a strong push through personal outreach – last-minute registrants and walk-ins filled out the group of about 20 alumni. A great time was had by all!

Matthew Kerrigan 09B






Matthew Kerrigan 09B

Letter from Co-Chair – President Wagner visits GALA Steering Committee Meeting

Like most alumni affinity groups, GALA serves as a social and professional networking outlet for its members. Our summer and winter socials, spring theater outing, and monthly meetings are valuable ways for LGBTQ alumni to connect with one another.

What makes GALA different from most groups of its kind, however, is its involvement in campus-based advocacy. In the past 5 years, GALA has protested Chik-Fil-A on campus, supported the efforts of Freedom at Emory to grant financial aid to undocumented students, publicly opposed the Candler School of Theology’s decision to present anti-gay church leader H. Eddie Fox with a Distinguished Alumni award, and, most recently, lobbied the President to request that Emory oppose discriminatory statewide legislation.

In October, the GALA Steering Committee wrote to President Wagner to ask that Emory take a public stand against so-called religious freedom bills that threaten to erode rights for LGBTQ Georgians. After exchanging emails throughout the fall semester, we invited President Wagner to join us for our January meeting. We were delighted when he, along with Jerry Lewis, Sr. vice President for Communications and Public Affairs; Sarah Cook, Sr. Associate Vice President for Emory Alumni Association; Cameron Taylor, Vice President for Government and Community Affairs; Evan Goldberg, Special Assistant to the President; and Jessie Arnidis, Director of Development, Campus Life and Athletics, agreed to attend our meeting and engage in a dialogue with us regarding Emory’s stance on these legislative initiatives. Our conversation with the President and his colleagues was engaging, informative, respectful, and enlightening, and we were thrilled to learn that Emory has indeed joined Georgia Prospers, a coalition of businesses and organizations that oppose discriminatory legislation on the grounds that it’s both unethical and bad for business.

As alumni, we see it as our responsibility to hold our alma mater to the highest standards of accountability and ethical engagement, particularly when it comes to matters of access, equity, and inclusion. Emory does not exist in a bubble; as an employer and an institution of higher learning, we are part of Atlanta’s community and a landmark of which Georgia should be proud. We therefore applaud President Wagner’s decision to join Georgia Prospers and send a clear message to our state legislature that LGBTQ students, employees, and alumni are valued at Emory. Furthermore, we are grateful that President Wagner and his colleagues took the time to sit down and talk with us at length about issues that are critical to GALA’s members, and we look forward to building a similarly mutually supportive and transparent relationship with his successor.

If you’d like to get involved with GALA’s advocacy efforts, please join us the second Tuesday of every month at 6pm for dinner and our monthly meeting in the Miller Ward Alumni House.

In pride,

Aby Headshot










Aby Parsons, 13G
Co-Chair, GALA: Emory LGBT Alumni

Update from the Office of LGBT Life

LGBTLife2016 has already been a busy year here in the Office of LGBT Life! Interim Director Danielle Steele and our student staff began the new semester with more of our regular programming, including our Safe Space training and queer discussion groups. We now host five discussion groups, including Trans-forming Gender, Queer Men, Bisexual/Pansexual, Queer & Asian, and Black & Queer. You can read more about our discussion groups here.

The Office of LGBT Life has also been involved in a lot of special events this year. One of the most special has been the 2016 Creating Change conference. A group of 11 Emory students boarded a flight to Chicago on January 20th to attend Creating Change. We spent five days at the conference meeting other college activists, networking with LGBT employers, and attending sessions on a variety of queer topics. Many of us particularly enjoyed the plenary lecture this year, which featured Barbara Smith, Reina Gossett, and Charlene Carruthers in a conversation about black feminism. The experience was truly humbling. We returned to Emory refreshed and ready to commit to another year of activism within our communities.

In the weeks following Creating Change, we have been working hard to prepare for the Pride Awards. The recipients of the awards are students, alumni, staff, and faculty members who represent the Office of LGBT Life’s mission of creating an affirming and just campus environment. The awards will be presented at the 24th Annual Pride Awards on March 3rd at 6:30 p.m. in the Miller-Ward Alumni House here at Emory University. Awards include the Outstanding Transgender Advocate Award, Outstanding Ally of the Year Award, Chesnut LGBT Person of the Year Award, Fierce Leadership Award, Alum of the Year Award, Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe Keeping the Faith Award, and the GALA Leadership Award. The event is free and open to the public. Returning alumni and graduating students are welcome to a special pre-Pride Awards reception starting at 5:30 p.m. Please register here.

Later this spring, the Office of LGBT Life looks forward to hosting a series of programs on being out in the workplace. The tentative date for Out in Law is March 31st, and the tentative date for Out in Business is April 14th. Please let us know if you would like to be a part of either program.

As always, alumni involvement continues to benefit our students. Contact Danielle Steele at if you are interested in being more involved with the Office of LGBT Life. You can also keep up-to-date with our activities through our Facebook and Instagram pages. Thank you!

GALA Event Recap and Updates

General Muir at Emory Point was the gathering place for our Annual Holiday Social held on December 3rd. Beginning in the early evening, our party took place in a separate section of the acclaimed restaurant where we were served an excellent selection of food and drink. Over 35 alumni and students celebrated the holidays with great cheer and enthusiasm. After 2 hours of great fellowship and fun, all agreed that we ended our 2015 social calendar with a memorable evening.
We’re kicking off 2016 with a real treat!La_Vivandere

Our Annual Theater Outing on Sunday, April 10th will travel to the Ferst Center at Georgia Tech for a performance of the dance sensation, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. High camp and humor rule the day as this all male troupe show their athleticism and love of the art form as they parody serious ballet to the delight of their audience. The Sunday Matinee performance begins at 2:00 PM, but the GALA party starts at 1:00 with a wine and cheese party just across the street from the performance. Parking is free. Come join the fun. Click here to register. Don’t miss it!

Out on Campus – Leo Ragazzo

Cover PhotoLike many of us, Leo Ragazzo found Emory because of its strong academic reputation. What makes Leo’s discovery of Emory a bit unique is that he was recruited to play for the Emory University men’s varsity soccer team. Wearing the number 13, Leo appeared in 37 games during his playing career and has been recognized for his defensive talents as a UAA Defensive Athlete of the Week during his final season.


Leo came out to his parents after a soccer game during his second year, and he explained that he wanted them to be some of the first people he told. He found his coming out experience to be a very positive one because he “encountered a lot of support through the initial ‘coming out’ process.” The resources provided through the Office of LGBT Life proved important to this positive experience because he was able to attend some of the discussion groups and connect with other members of the Emory LGBTQ community.


For Leo, coming out was his opportunity to express himself completely. In his own words, “it wasn’t like I was keeping this secret that was about to shoot out my ears or anything, but just the ability to express myself completely was such a powerful, new experience.” He reflects that his second year was also the time when he discovered his passion for the environment and animals, and was also when he started his work in Residence Life as a sophomore advisor.


Looking back on his time as a varsity athlete, Leo sees an area of his undergraduate experience that was less positive. As far as he’s aware, he’s the first openly gay man on the varsity soccer team in either a long while or possibly ever. Because of this, he experienced micro-aggressions on a regular basis:


I thought they would’ve stopped after my team knew I was gay, but that didn’t really happen, unfortunately. There were many “teachable moments” I guess you could say. A lot of explaining why certain words or phrases might be hurtful even if my teammates “didn’t mean it that way.” I think Emory varsity athletics can improve here. I think there is a space to make Emory athletics as a whole a more LGBTQ-inclusive environment. I won’t say my experience as an openly gay varsity athlete was horrible, because it wasn’t. In fact, some of my best Emory memories are on that field. But, I will say that environment wasn’t always a safe space for me.


He admires Emory’s dedication to supporting LGBTQ students, but also understands that for many students, staff and faculty, the opportunity to find a safer space to come out may not exist. Leo hopes the events he became familiar with that helped him find power in his identity will provide others with the same feeling.


As Leo prepares to graduate, he is completing majors in Environmental Sciences and Biology and plans to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. Leo has also remained very involved in Residence Life and now serves as the Senior Resident Advisor for Hamilton Holmes and J. Pollard Turman Halls. It was a Residence Life-related class assignment where he finds one of the most reflective moments of his four years at Emory. The assignment was to facilitate a presentation providing ten words describing who he is. Leo was quick to share the last word: proud. “I am proud of who I’ve become, and I know being a part of the LGBTQ community [at Emory] has helped me get there.”