“I sort of want to do everything,” Natalie Kalb says.
It’s been more than six years since the 24-year-old received the first Little Sister’s Bookstore scholarship through the LOUD Foundation, and her commitment to LGBT youth has only grown.
The LOUD Foundation is the philanthropic arm of BC’s gay and lesbian business association, which annually grants scholarships to students who show promise as future leaders of Canadian LGBT communities.
Kalb received the award in part for her work founding a gay-straight alliance at Magee Secondary School in Vancouver in 2009.
(Here’s an excerpt from an interview Natalie Kalb gave the LOUD Foundation when she received her award in 2009./LOUD)
“I was just getting started in 2009,” Kalb says, “and I started in a big way, I guess. I went head first.”
“It really fuelled my passion, and it’s what keeps me going through this master’s [degree].”
(Here’s another excerpt from Kalb’s 2009 interview with the LOUD Foundation./LOUD)
Kalb is now a master’s student in the University of Toronto’s clinical and counselling psychology program, with a specialization in addictions — an area of interest to her since she was 12 and read Melvin Burgess’ YA novel Junk, about heroine addiction and a group of teenagers.
“It’s always been one of my career goals to work in that field as a psychologist specializing in addiction and substance abuse treatment,” she says. “There’s a higher prevalence of all substance use in the LGBT community, so I’ve started to be able to join those two things and that’s sort of what I’m doing right now.”
Kalb’s master’s thesis examines alcohol use in LGBT young adults, specifically looking at how internalized homophobia, everyday anti-gay comments, and rejection by one’s parents all affect rates of substance use among young queer people.
She recently applied for her PhD and plans to study what parents can do to foster resiliency in their LGBT children and be a “protective force” against substance abuse.
Although Toronto is home for now, Kalb hopes to one day return to Vancouver and work as a psychologist, while continuing to research and possibly even teach at a graduate level.
“Most (post-secondary) schools have some sort of course on special LGBT counselling interventions, and it would be amazing if I could teach that course,” she says.
>> Next: 2009 LOUD recipient Joshua Ferguson.