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A Profile of Pride: Danny Roe ‘13    

May 6, 2021


Texas A&M University at Galveston’s Assistant Director for Student Diversity Initiatives Danny Roe '13 (L) poses next to Judge Phyllis Frye at a conference. Roe recently won the 2021 Phyllis R. Frye Advocacy Award.

By Andréa Bolt, Communications Specialist, Division of Marketing & Communications

“It’s hard to watch the news right now, necessary but hard.” Danny Roe ‘13 indicates the nearby television playing a news clip showing politicians pushing anti-transgender legislation.

Roe, Texas A&M University at Galveston’s Assistant Director for Student Diversity Initiatives, is doing the best he can to balance good news with the bad. So it meant that much more when he learned he recently won the 2021 Phyllis R. Frye Advocacy Award.

The prestigious prize is part of the ACE (Accountability, Climate, and Equity) Awards, distributed annually by the Texas A&M Division of Student Affairs Multicultural Services. Roe was chosen specifically as a standout staff member demonstrating firm commitment to the Aggie Core Value of Respect through his promotion of inclusivity, affirming and encouraging individuals to take pride in their social and cultural identities, and including all Aggies in his definition of the Aggie family.

When he considers his decision to attend Texas A&M-Galveston as a student over a decade ago in combination with winning an award named after a personal hero of his, Roe takes a deep breath and smiles, “It has been one heck of a journey to get to this place.” 

Roe poses with his Phyllis R. Frye Advocacy Award
Roe poses with his Phyllis R. Frye Advocacy Award.

Journey to the Sea

Hailing from the small town of Rowlett, an east Dallas suburb, high school-aged Roe found himself in a bit of a conundrum. His love and appreciation for math, specifically algebra, had him convinced that being a math teacher was his future. The problem was the hypnotic pull of the ocean he couldn’t seem to quiet.

“I actually initially signed on to the softball team at Rhodes College in Memphis, TN. I almost had a full ride, but something in me just kept wanting to be by the sea. I couldn’t get it out of my head.”

Roe did some research and discovered Texas A&M-Galveston, which had the quaint campus he wanted, plus all of the storied Aggie traditions wrapped up in a vacation destination on the beach.

Another reason Roe opted to become an Aggie by the Sea had to do with his desire for LGBTQ+ resources and a diverse student population. He knew the Galveston Campus had connections to the resources and standards offered at its larger College Station campus and it gave him hope.

“At a campus with Texas A&M attached to it I knew I could be myself and have a successful future. So I came to Texas A&M-Galveston for the ocean and the chance to live my best life,” he said.

Roe started his academic career in engineering, drawn by the mathematical, mechanical aspects of the program and driven by the number of engineers in his own family. It felt familiar, but something wasn’t right. His grades weren’t what he wanted them to be and he felt conflicted in every which way.

Internally and academically, Roe found himself at a crossroads.

Then he reached a breaking point.

“I was having an identity crisis. I mean, college is hard enough without being transgender, but I didn’t even know what that fully meant at the time. So I was dealing with that and this whole idea of ‘What do I do if I’m not an engineer? Who am I?’ It was so hard,” he recalled.

Feeling like he had hit rock bottom, Roe knew he had to fight the current and swim up if he wanted to survive.

He dove into gender identity research and transgender history. Finding a welcoming community online, Roe soon felt comfortable enough to introduce himself to the student groups he was involved in. He found special solace in the campus’ Gay/Straight Alliance group, now known as Sea Aggie Pride.

Roe changed his major to Maritime Studies (MAST), determined as a result of his personal education quest to pursue a future in education.

“From that point forward it became about educating myself and everyone around me. I didn’t want anyone else to go through what I had and I wanted to know as much as I could. I still feel like everything happens for a reason and that’s truly why I’m here,” he explained.

Aggie Allyship

During his time as a student, Roe was a dedicated student worker. Among other roles, he served as a campus ambassador and led tours for prospective students. Roe was recognized for his dedication to the campus and found work as an Aggie by the Sea staffer after graduating in 2013.

He has worked as a financial aid counselor, held multiple positions in the Office of Student Enrollment Services, and continued to lead campus tours. He also took time to earn a master’s degree in higher education administration in 2018. Finally, a position as Student Development Specialist came available under Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Todd Sutherland ‘90. Roe jumped at the chance. Not only would the role give him the opportunity to work closer with students, Sutherland had been a staunch supporter of Roe’s since his time as a student.

“Todd was a big advocate for me. He went to human resources with me in 2013 and we created policies on campus to help change some things around so I could be confirmed in my identity, so it was awesome that I was going to be working in his department.”

A few years later, the Office of Student Diversity Initiatives was founded and Roe was thrilled to be in a place and position that felt like home. Now, he is the assistant director of that very office, centering diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts across the campus.

The LGBTQ+ resources Roe came to the campus in search of have been increased ten-fold because of his work. He is proud to have helped found Drag Week on campus with the Sea Aggie Pride group, the Aggie Ally program, and the new 1973 Center.

In 2011, Roe brought the Aggie Ally initiative from College Station to Galveston. Begun in 1992, the program is an educational workshop designed to inform and aid staff and faculty across campus in serving students and other faculty and staff as LGBTQ+ allies. Alongside former mentor Assistant Director of Multicultural Services Angie Moreno, Roe grew the program across the Galveston Campus and keyed in on what allyship really meant to him.

Allies, according to Roe, have been the bedrock of both his career and life. In addition to Sutherland, the Galveston Campus’ Dr. Carol Bunch Davis, assistant vice president for academic affairs, associate professor of English, and chair of the Civic Literacy, Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (CLIDE) Committee has been a “ride or die” in Roe’s life. 

Along with his Texas A&M-Galveston supporters, Roe says his wife Christin has been one of his greatest advocates.
Along with his Texas A&M-Galveston supporters, Roe says his wife Christin has been one of his greatest advocates.

“Carol has made me laugh, seen me cry and has acted as such a solid foundation for me on this campus. She has helped me as a friend, mentor and inspired me to keep going,” Roe said.

Just last November, a joint project between Roe and Davis made its debut in Hullabaloo Hall. The 1973 Center was named after the historic year female, Black and African American students gained admittance to the university, the center serves as an inclusive gathering space and community area for LGBTQ+ and underrepresented student groups. The center was a longtime vision of Roe and Davis’.

Roe has also been recognized at a community level for his dedication to Aggies by the Sea and the city of Galveston. In 2018 he was named an inaugural “40 Under 40” honoree and featured as one of the island’s key “movers and shakers” in the Galveston Daily News.

Roe hosts coffee hours in the community for LGBTQ+ Galvestonians and also helps transgender patients advocate for trans-inclusive healthcare at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB).

“I feel every step I took in the university led me to where I am, and I feel like I still have so much further to go! So when I tell you I am just beyond humbled to even be nominated for the Phyllis R. Frye Advocacy Award, let alone actually win it, I mean it. Phyllis has been one of the leaders for trans rights in Texas —her work as a lawyer and judge has been awe inspiring— that in itself makes her a pillar in the area of trans rights and leadership,” explained Roe.

It also means more because Roe has personally met Frye, the nation's first openly transgender judge and a longtime LGBTQ+ advocate, on multiple occasions.

“I’ve met her at multiple conferences and just listened to and watched her in amazement. I’ve gotten a few handshakes over the years, but I finally got a photo with her in 2019 and she said ‘I remember you,’ so in this photo I’m just smiling like an idiot,” he said with a laugh. “We could connect because we’re Aggies but also because she knew what I was doing for the community, too. So when I got the call saying I’d won this award, and now knowing my name is associated with hers, it is just beyond awesome in my book.”

The next chapter in Roe’s book concerns the same overarching theme, education.

He was just accepted into Texas A&M University’s Department of Education and Human Development Educational Administration, emphasis in Higher Education Administration, doctoral program.

Thus, a new chapter begins.

(Watch the ACE Awards Ceremony on YouTube, Roe's portion can be seen from 20:30 - 24:44.) 

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Media contact:
Andréa Bolt
Communications Specialist
a_bolt@tamug.edu



Texas A&M University at Galveston is an ocean-oriented branch campus of Texas A&M University which educates nearly 2,300 undergraduate and graduate students in a unique blend of marine and maritime programs, including majors in science, business, engineering, liberal arts, and transportation. It is driving the development of the blue economy in the Gulf Coast Region and is a critical contributor to Texas A&M’s sea-grant portion of Texas A&M’s rare land-, sea-, space-grant mission with nearly $10 million in research expenditures.
 
Texas A&M-Galveston is also home to the Texas A&M Maritime Academy, one of seven in the U.S. and the only academy integrated into a Tier 1 academic institution, which trains over 400 cadets annually for maritime service and employment around the world. Texas A&M-Galveston is ideally located in Galveston, Texas on the Gulf Coast where is it surrounded by the industry, environment and programs essential to fulfilling its special-purpose mission. Aggies are known for their deep commitment to the success of each other and their strong desire to serve.

If you are interested in supporting this endeavor or research, please contact the Texas A&M University at Galveston Office of Development by email at GiveToSeaAggies@txamfoundation.com or by calling (409) 740-4481.