Once she had the support of the upperclassmen, she came out to her classmates, and eventually the coaching staff through assistant coach Val Klopfer.
“One of the reasons that I committed to Cornell was that I felt a sense of commonality with Coach K,” says Aston. “I hadn’t totally figured out my sexuality at that point, but I just knew that she’d be a good ally.”
Aston found other allies shortly after arriving on campus by visiting Cornell’s LGBT Resource Center. The director at the time suggested a few student groups, and she got to work on finding peace and a community.
“I lacked a queer community before coming to Cornell,” says Aston, who attended an all-girl Catholic high school. “Even coming from Los Angeles. In reality, I come from a really small suburb. I had a lot of friends, but having a community is so important. I didn’t have that at all in high school and I felt very isolated.”
Early in her sophomore year, Aston was approached by Brian Patchcoski, who had just been appointed the Associate Dean of Students & Director of the LGBT Resource Center. To Aston’s shock, he suggested that she apply to be his Education and Advocacy Intern.
“I told him, ‘I have been out for less than a year. I have about three gay friends. I have limited contacts and limited knowledge. And I know nothing about the Trans community.’ I was convinced there were so many better candidates and that I wasn’t qualified,” says Aston. “But he said, ‘No. I think this will be good for you too.’ And he convinced me to take the job.”
Aston spent her first two months in the position utilizing the Center’s resource library to educate herself, and it wasn’t long before Patchcoski put her in charge of two of the Center’s annual events – the Transgender Day of Remembrance in the fall and Lavender Graduation in the spring.
“Both events are real tearjerkers,” says Aston. “Aside from helping students to become more comfortable with themselves, seeing people come out to support one another is just the most rewarding thing that I do at the Center.”
Last spring, Aston also helped Cornell’s chapter of Athlete Ally to bring U.S. women’s soccer national team member Megan Rapinoe to campus, making a connection that resulted in her being named president of the group for the 2016-17 academic year.
Aston’s growth both personally and as a leader in Cornell’s LGBTQQIA+ community has been mirrored on the basketball court. After averaging just 11.3 minutes per game and scoring a mere 84 points during her entire freshman season, she has gone on to start, finishing second on the team in scoring over each of the last two seasons. She enters her senior year ranked among the top 30 in Cornell history in career points (30th – 694), rebounds (24th – 429), defensive rebounds (13th – 287), offensive rebounds (17th – 142), and blocked shots (20th – 32).