Veronika “Roni” Hammond will graduate from Montclair State University in 2022 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation/Illustration. She knew she wanted to make art for a living, and while researching Montclair State, she found that Montclair’s curriculum seemed focused on preparing students for a future in the art industry. “After a year in the program,” Veronika said, “I can happily say that all of my classes have been really educational and challenging, but also super interesting!” Because she loves people as much as she loves art, her future career plans include helping others through art therapy.

At MSU, she is a Presidential Scholar — a program that provides a $5,000 scholarship to motivated students for each year of study — and is also in the university’s Honors program. Veronika is a member of the animation club and participates in LGBT-based activities on campus.

In her spare time, she enjoys reading and listening to music; she recently finished reading Alexander Pushkin’s “Yevgeniy Onegin.” Veronika has dual Russian/American citizenship and can hold a conversation in Russian.

While she’s been visiting Russia since she was an infant, Veronika recently traveled alone to Saint Petersburg — this is the scariest thing she’s ever done. “Since Russia is such an enormous country, and is also essentially an authoritarian dictatorship, going there alone was definitely intimidating,” she said. “Despite that, getting to travel [and see] all of the amazing art and history, in addition to spending time with my family there, made this trip so incredible.”

Through Writing Wrongs, Veronika hopes to expand her involvement within the LGBT community and amplify their collective voice.

In addition to my sexual orientation, an important aspect of my identity is the fact that I am a Russian-American. It is widely known that the LGBT community faces an immense amount of homophobic and transphobic discrimination within Russia, both from the general populace and from the legal actions of the state. Due to my cultural experiences as a visibly queer person, I have been forced to develop a profound and personal understanding of the prejudice against LGBT people, both in the Russian Federation and in the United States of America. Not only have I been impacted by this bigotry, but I also have Russian family members who are in the gay community that have had to fight and cross great distances in order to be with those that they love. As a result, I am deeply dedicated to the fight for LGBT rights, and I want to help reduce the existing injustice that is brought upon sexual minorities in America, Russia, and around the globe.