60 for 60: Tiffany Skouby, first openly gay SGA president at Durham Tech and co-founder of SPECTRUM, created a ‘space for all students’

In celebration of Durham Technical Community College’s 60th anniversary, the College is publishing 60 for 60 – a storytelling campaign that highlights the people, places, and events that have progressed and shaped the College’s six decades of impact. To view more 60 for 60 stories, visit www.durhamtech.edu/60for60.

person smiling at cameraTiffany Skouby’s leadership journey began in a psychology class at Durham Tech’s Orange County Campus in 2010.

The instructor broke students up into test groups for a project and Skouby’s group were all members of the LGBTQ+ community. The students grew close as they discussed challenges they faced every day.

“Our group didn’t feel represented. We had a voice and we wanted to be heard,” Skouby said. “Durham Tech heard us loud and clear. From that group, an organization grew.”

The students formed SPECTRUM (Sexuality Pride Educate Connect Trust Respect Unity Multiplicity), a student club at Durham Tech whose mission is to advocate for and support the needs of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community.

“It’s important for students to have an outlet to see others like themselves or allies who support them.” Skouby said. “SPECTRUM is that place for LGBTQ+ individuals to talk through the challenges they face in day-to-day life, but also have a space to learn about advocacy and social justice so they can find the means and voice to stand up for themselves and truly be heard on campus and in their communities.”

Skouby was co-founder and later club president.

“This led me to want to be an advocate for all students. Durham Tech embraced me and my thoughts. It encouraged the things that didn’t seem possible and taught me what being a true leader and advocate for students was,” Skouby said.

Nan Dernar, former Director of Counseling, Student Development, and Activities at Durham Tech, encouraged Skouby to run for president of the Student Senate, now-Student Government Association.

“When I started SPECTRUM and became SGA President, I didn’t think about it being in a sense groundbreaking or a first. I just showed up wanting to create a space for all students, including LGBTQ+ students to have a voice,” Skouby said. “There were so many prevalent issues we were tackling at the time like NC’s Amendment One, creating a resolution to combat hate in our state and speaking out against it, and at the same time tackling issues like food insecurity on campus. I think it’s humbling to think what I thought were small steps at the time have created such a big impact for Durham Tech.”

At the time, Durham Tech was one of only two community colleges in the state that established an LGBTQ+ student club.

Skouby made an impact in several ways as SGA President, but her most proud accomplishment was helping start the Campus Harvest Food Pantry.

SGA recognized that students were facing food insecurities and decided to distribute 50 bags of food during the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service in 2011. All 50 bags were gone in 10 minutes.

“We knew something bigger was at play and this was where conversations for the food pantry began. Small steps, big impact,” Skouby said.

Skouby graduated from Durham Tech in 2012 with an Associate in General Education and then enrolled in the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where she earned a bachelor’s in arts with a concentration in Media Studies.

Today, she is the Director of Student Engagement at Piedmont Community College and serves as their SGA Advisor. She is also a Senior Advisor to the North Carolina Comprehensive Community College Student Government Association.

“My path to working with students started at Durham Tech in SGA. I don’t remember a job interview where my SGA experience hasn’t come up. It built lifelong skills that eventually formed a career for me,” Skouby said. “I now get to use those skills in my current roles.”
Contact Marcy Gardner, Content and Social Media Coordinator, at gardnerm@durhamtech.edu