Penn State Libraries ‘shattering stereotypes’ with virtual event ‘Voices: Share Your Story Showcase’



The world is filled with a multitude of varying perspectives, and even within the Penn State community, there are many diverse voices.

To uplift and share them, Penn State University Libraries is hosting its fifth annual “Voices” event for community members, students and faculty. “Voices” is a forum for participants to share their personal experiences with others.

According to Danica White, the student engagement librarian, from March 23-25, approximately 20 speakers — or “voices” — will give hour-long presentations about their lives, each followed by a Q&A session.

Various backgrounds — including a diversity of genders, races, sexual orientations and even individuals struggling with different types of mental illnesses — will be represented, and each “voice” will share personal struggles with fitting into their community, according to a Penn State News release.

White said the virtual format of this year’s event opened up the conversation to Penn Staters outside of State College who bring an assortment of individual experiences.

“It’s about shattering stereotypes,” White said. “The amount of different people and different backgrounds is just amazing.”

Megan Gilpin, the Penn State Libraries outreach coordinator, said Thursday’s event will feature a showcase panel of three voices and a moderator to discuss the theme of overcoming obstacles together.


“Voices” will take place through the Whova app, a platform designed to host interactive presentations, according to White. Participants can fill out a registration form to access the event schedule.

According to White, pre-registration through Whova adds a level of security for the “voices,” who are there to tell, as Gilpin said, “intensely personal” stories.

“People are incredibly vulnerable when they’re sharing these stories, but they’re doing it because they want to reach out to others, make a connection and have that dialogue,” Gilpin said.

Gilpin first pitched the idea of a “human library” to her coworkers in 2017, and she said it has become a perspective-sharing event.

“The idea is that people are interacting with somebody who they wouldn’t normally interact with,” Gilpin said. “We’re hoping that those diverse interactions help them better understand obstacles, social barriers [and] what somebody else’s experience is like.”

With “everything going on in the world” currently, Gilpin said this year’s “Voices” event revolves around understanding what it’s like to live in someone else’s shoes, a sentiment White reiterated.

“I am hoping our attendees come with an open mind,” White said, “and I hope that they learn something about a population that is different from themselves.”