Quincy is a graduate student at the University of Montevallo currently studying to become a counselor. He is photographed in First Methodist Church.

On being open-minded

"Most people in our state don’t realize Montevallo is more progressive that we give it credit for, being a rural city here in Shelby County. I’m consistently shocked when I come in contact with people through churches that are committed to social justice and equality and love for all people. The school had to be progressive when it started because it was a school for girls. That was a radical thought, especially in rural Alabama. It’s evolved into this forward-thinking university.  I used to be pretty conservative to an extent on certain issues, but coming here and learning from so many different professors opened me up as an individual. I can look at every situation and wonder what it’s like in their shoes and what their thought processes are. That led me to go into counseling, which is what I’m doing now. I’m in the master’s program for counseling and realizing that every person is the expert of their own experience. Montevallo ushered me into the mindset of believing that. Coming here brought me out of my shell a lot. I was shy, but I’m very extroverted. I found out a lot of things about myself through campus involvement, being president of Spectrum [Montevallo’s gay/straight alliance], coordinating events, religious organizations, and all the opportunities I’ve had to grow into my own. Montevallo has opened me up in the sense of respecting people for their beliefs."

becoming part of the community

"As an undergrad, it all started when I became the music director at University Baptist Church. Through that, I was able to meet so many community leaders, professors, and get into the realm of something off-campus. I felt like I was a part of the community being a part of this church. It blossomed into me being able to work and serve in four churches here in Montevallo. A former minister of this church, First Methodist, started the Montevallo Acceptance Project. He was concerned about LGBT people in Montevallo and Shelby County abroad. We have about 100 people connected to this organization, and we have monthly meanings where we educate people on what it means to be an ally on LGBT issues in our city and how we can better help and serve others. We’re working on a non-discrimination ordinance, and that would be the first to pass in the state of Alabama, which would be very cool. Being a part of the religious community here has connected me with a lot of citizens here in Montevallo, so I see a different side of this little town."

on community kindness

"Every church I’ve been a part of or every place I go, there’s always that one person that takes you under your wing. I will never forget at University Baptist, getting to know Ed and Ruth Robertson. Ed Robertson was the theory professor at Montevallo before Dr. Landers. His wife, Ruth, was a school counselor, and I attribute things she’s said to me going into the field of counseling. This couple in particular were like my parents away from home. I could go to them for anything, I would stop by on occasion and sit with them, they’d invite me and young members to the choir to eat. If you did the smallest thing, like you might have read scripture at church or something like that, she would write you a long note about how much she appreciated what you did. It’s the small things that people in this town do. Montevallo people are very deliberate with their gratitude and with making you feel welcome and loved and a part of the group. Ruth has just recently passed away. She battled cancer for a long time. It’s people like her that make me think, ‘that’s the spirit of Montevallo’."

Highlights from the university

"The first highlight I can recall from undergrad was certainly becoming president of Spectrum. I was away from home, and I was being able to live out myself authentically and start to find myself more. People may find themselves in high school, but when you’re LGBT, you have to re-do the whole process. In high school you’re at home and you have to sort of live with a mask on. Being a part of Spectrum was a big undertaking, and I knew at that point I didn’t give myself enough credit for what I was capable of. I attribute a lot of my advocacy successes today to the Montevallo experience.

One of the things that was so wonderful for me playing on gold side [during College Night] was to see how well we all meshed. Especially on production staff, we may have had different beliefs on how things should be done, but it was very considerate. We worked like a smooth oiled machine every year I played gold side. One of the most poignant moments was my first year, and I was late to GV initiation because of some family issues. I came in and they were just finishing up. They were all on stage about to talk through stuff. I said, ‘hey, can I still come in?’ And the leader said, ‘friend, there’s always room for one more gold.’ I know it sounds so cliche, but he really embodied it. He meant that, and I felt that. It was the look in his eye and the way he said it- I was like, ‘man, that’s what gold side is.’ No matter who you are, we want everybody to come and be a part of our group."

Montevallo at its best (and worst)

"Montevallo is at its best when it’s helping others, when it’s being open, when it’s welcoming the stranger. I think that’s something we do really well here. We’re not petty. We’re not going to just look at somebody because they have crazy colors to their hair and not invite them to our churches or our businesses. We have a really good appreciation of the arts- that’s so important. I’ve never seen a municipality that has such good awareness of visual and musical arts and theatrics, and implements that at almost every level in the city. That’s beautiful.

Montevallo is at its worst when we have people in this town that are still being disenfranchised. Sometimes are are not thinking about their neighbor and the concerns of people that are sharing the city with them. That’s evident in some respects; for instance, there are paved sidewalks here and there are not paved sidewalks in the black neighborhood. It’s stuff like that. There are some things that fall through the cracks. My grandmother often says, “sometimes the call of God is so blatant that it’ll slap you in the face, and sometimes you have to dig deep and search or maybe just open your eyes’."

embracing the town

"I would tell students that they need to be willing to test the waters. Extend a hand and say hello the person next to them at the Piggly Wiggly or CVS. Try something different. Go to the Art Walk or the art festival or Orr Park. If you’re thinking about going to a church and you don’t know how they feel, maybe research it. Go talk to someone. The disconnect [between the university and the town] is that a lot of students don’t try to go out and take on all the things that Montevallo has to offer. Students love Montevallo and there are so many traditions we hold dear, but I think we lose a bit of the spark and the whole scope of what Montevallo is by not actually going out and exploring the rest of the city."

Future plans

"It’s a very stark difference [being a graduate student]. I’d actually looked at other master's program- I love Montevallo, but I kind of wanted to branch out. But when I started narrowing it down, it made much sense for me to stay. When you stay here post-undergrad you kind of become what they call a “townie”. Everybody’s like, ‘wait, didn’t he graduate? Why is he still here?’ It is what it is. Graduate school is definitely a lot harder than undergrad- you're doing a lot of reading, you’re doing a lot of work, you’re doing a lot of hands-on stuff in the counseling program. It’s a different world from undergrad. In the future, I see myself finishing the master’s program, working as a counselor, and still being involved in civic work. I think civic duty is so important, and not everyone is called to do civic work, but I feel like I am and I have a really good passion for it. I see myself staying in the South because I like warmer weather, and I don’t think I could ever live in a large city. I’ve been spoiled with how relaxed Montevallo is. Hopefully I’m married one day- one of my dream jobs is to be a dad. I just love kids. There are all the things I’ll carry with me from Montevallo… treating everyone with respect and recognizing everyone is the expert of their own experience. They’re on their own journeys, but we all share a common road. Those are the unifying themes I’ll carry with me from Montevallo."