In celebration and support of Pride Month, Morehouse College is sharing its inaugural “Profiles of Pride” series, which will highlight the life, experience, and successes of a selection of the College’s own students, alumni, faculty, and staff who identify as members of the LGBTQIA+ community. These people are a few of many who embody the Morehouse mission of leading lives of leadership and service with disciplined minds.
An 18-year member of the Biology Department at Morehouse, Assoc. Professor Valerie K. Haftel holds a BS in Biology from Bucknell, an MS in Physiology from Drexel, and a PhD in Physiology from Emory. She has mentored dozens of students in her research lab at Morehouse, served on several college committees, starting a term as Chair of Faculty, and teaches introductory and advanced lecture and lab courses in biology, physiology, and neurobiology. Through grantsmanship and collaboration, Haftel has brought over $4 million to Morehouse in research, programs, and scholarship funds. She advises the Neuroscience minor; two student groups on campus (ΦΔΕ and ΝΡΨ); and serves as teaching mentor to new generations of FIRST Postdoctoral Fellows.
Haftel believes in the mission of Morehouse to expand our thinking and experiences globally. She has traveled the world with her spouse of 26 years, with Morehouse taking STEM students touring Germany in a science-cultural exchange, and with the Emory Tibet Science initiative.
What does "Pride" mean to you?: “Pride means accepting and understanding myself and others for who we are and how we are in this life. It means believing that people live in the world and experience the world in different ways for many reasons. Our differences make us each precious and allow us all to contribute to life in beautiful ways, no matter how large or small. Pride means a willingness to support others where they are, and, if needed, guide them through sometimes difficult realizations, questioning, and doubt to a positive, healthy view of themselves.”
What advice would you give your younger self?: “Be who you are, and when things get difficult, seek out those who support you in real ways. Life has many challenges that can bring you to the lowest point you never thought you would see, but there are wonderful times ahead full of love and joy that require your presence. Don’t waste your time on people who are there for their convenience. Trust in your friends and family. They love you, will listen to you, and will always support you.”