search button
newscenter logo
Saturday, December 2, 2023

Follow SDSU Follow SDSU on Twitter Follow SDSU on Facebook SDSU RSS Feed

SDSU student and aspiring attorney Ian Mariano Von Dyl. (Aaron Burgin/SDSU) SDSU student and aspiring attorney Ian Mariano Von Dyl. (Aaron Burgin/SDSU)

SDSU Student is Helping Connect 2SLGBTQIA+ Students and Fostering Diversity in Law

Third-year student Ian Mariano Von Dyl helps create a strong student body by bringing together students and support groups and structures.
By Aaron Burgin

Ian Mariano Von Dyl sees himself as a connector. 


As a Pride Center student worker and president of SDSU Mock Trial, he strives to connect students to organizations and the resources they offer. He believes his experience at San Diego State University shows the importance of connections and the role models who facilitate them.


The aspiring attorney said he wants to connect the next generation of 2SLGBTQIA+ students — possibly hesitant about pursuing law — to their dreams by serving as an example. 


“I want to show, that just by me being there, that maybe a kid who is thinking about the law can look and see themself in me,” said Von Dyl, a third-year international business major. 


A 2021 graduate of San Diego’s Del Norte High, Von Dyl came out as gay in the winter 2019, first to his family and slowly to friends. A few weeks later, he and his classmates were sent home to remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 


That gave Van Dyl time to do a “lot of thinking and self-realization.” By the time he arrived on campus in fall 2021, he knew he wanted to live openly out. He chose to live in the Pride House, a learning community for 2SLGBTQIA+ students. 


His first year was such a positive experience that he decided in his second year to work for the Pride Center. Von Dyl wanted more students to know about some of the resources and programming he found helpful during his first year, including the Pride House mentorship program, as well as the fact that most of the programming was created and led by students. 


Connecting students to those resources became a mission. 


“That was something I didn’t know about going into the year and, once I found it, knowing I had a mentor during that first year was really reassuring,” Von Dyl said. As a first-year student, “I thought that the programming on the Pride floor was just put on by faculty or admin or staff. When I learned that everything was student-led, it really made the experience that much better. And that’s something I wanted other students to know about.”


Initially, Von Dyl served as a Pride Center educator, leading support groups and programming. But he felt the position wasn’t the right fit and talked with the center’s leadership about finding a position with more impact. 


They shifted his focus to larger, project-based work, such as working alongside the Native Resource Center on the campuswide announcement of the addition of “2S” (two-spirit) to the LGBTQIA+ acronym, the sharing of the updated SDSU gender-inclusive restroom map and the ongoing update of SafeZones @ SDSU, a program that has helped train allies since 2007. 


Pride Center Director Kay Wong, said Von Dyl’s work has been invaluable. 


“Ian brings such joy, kindness and ease to The Pride Center; always asking the difficult questions, providing unique perspectives and advocating for others,” Wong said. “Ian balances humor with a goal-oriented focus that has been instrumental to key initiatives coming from The Pride Center. Without Ian, The Pride Center would not have had as successful of a campuswide announcement moving to using 2SLGBTQIA+ as the acronym or the campuswide sharing of the updated SDSU Gender-Inclusive Restroom Map.”


Future in law and as a role model 


As a lawyer, Von Dyl said he wants to support underrepresented and marginalized communities. To prepare for the next steps, Von Dyl joined SDSU’s mock trial team during the 2022-23 school year.


“I ended up loving it,” said Von Dyl, elected president of the organization for 2023-24. “I wasn’t that great at the speaking and performance aspect of it, but it was a great skill to learn. I worked my butt off last year with my teammates, and I believe it’s that determination that helped me get elected president. 


“The experience also reassured me that this was a field I wanted to pursue,” he said. 


Much like with the Pride Center, he wants to use his leadership role in SDSU Mock Trial to connect students who have an interest in the field to “hidden” offerings such as prelaw advising that SDSU provides.


Von Dyl hasn’t decided on what law school he wants to attend, but he is looking forward to the next two years at SDSU and beyond. 


Von Dyl, who is Filipino, said he wants to be a leader, compassionate and a role model that other queer, underrepresented students can look up to, bringing “a different perspective and provide legal services to two communities that have historically been underrepresented” and making law a safe space for all.


To emphasize the importance of representation, Von Dyl recalled a story from a different arena — soccer, a sport he coaches at the youth level. He frequently wears nail polish to practice, prompting players to ask him about it. After a while, he noticed that one of his players was also wearing nail polish. 


“I don’t know if it was because of me, but I am hoping that my example plants something in the back of their minds … that shows that different forms of gender expression are welcome and accepted,” Von Dyl said. “I want to carry that into the legal field and one day help to transform it so that it is a safe space where we won’t tolerate hatred or make insensitive remarks.” 


Those who know Von Dyl say he’s well-positioned to make law a safe space for all. 


“Ian's presence invites hope for the future, which aligns with his aspirations of becoming the life-changing lawyer I fully believe he can be,” Wong said. 


Thinking about his career at SDSU and beyond, Von Dyl noted the significance of role models. “In anything I do, I hope that I have an impact, even if I can’t see the impact while I’m there,” he said.