MTSU honors Maria Salas with Distinguished Alumni Award for Service to Community

Since 1960, the Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) Alumni Association has been honoring accomplished alumni with their highest honor: the Distinguished Alumni and Young Alumni Achievement awards. This year the association chose Maria Salas, MTSU 1985 graduate and former MTSU Lady Raider basketball player, to receive the Distinguished Alumni Award for Service to Community

“I’m so humbled and honored to receive the MTSU Distinguished Alumni Award for Service to the Community,” Salas said. “To me, it’s symbolic of why we go to college—to learn and grow so we can give back to the community personally and professionally. Of course, it’s a plus if you have a good time there as well.  My four years as a student-athlete at MTSU gave me lifelong friends and the foundation for a successful career.”

Salas graduated from MTSU summa cum laude in 1985 before receiving her Juris Doctorate from the Nashville School of Law in 1992. The Salas Law Group has since remained “committed to providing efficient, quality legal counsel and services to individuals and businesses facing financial difficulties.”

But practicing law is far from all Salas does to enrich our community, as she currently serves on the board of directors of Nashville CARES and also works nationally and locally to elect GLBT leaders to public office as a member of the Victory Fund’s Campaign Board.

Salas’ personal, professional and education community were quick to nominate her for the award. “Maria is a friend; I know her through various overlapping social and activist worlds... [and is] someone who is constantly giving back to the community, and that is what we hope all of our alumni do,” explained Pippa Holloway, MTSU Director of Graduate Studies for its history department and the person who nominated Salas for the award.

“I think it is significant that MTSU has recognized someone who is a leader of many diverse communities—her neighborhood, the legal profession, but also the LGBT community,” Holloway continued. “I see Maria's award as an affirmation by MTSU of the valuable role that gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans individuals play on campus, among our faculty and staff, and in our community. This award underscores MTSU's commitment to diversity and inclusiveness. This is a great step for MTSU to take.”

The praise for Salas’ contributions extends well beyond the MTSU community. In a nomination letter, John D. Kitch, President of the Nashville Bar Association stated, “she represents debtors in bankruptcy at perhaps the lowest points in their lives and at a time when they need a strong advocate. Maria is just such an advocate … I could go on and on. Suffice it to say that I can think of no one more deserving of the award for which she has been nominated.”

In another such letter, Joseph J. Kovalick II, the developer who built Salas’ home and in the process became her neighbor, recognizes Salas tireless efforts to the community in which she lives and the school their daughters attend. “She is an active member that regularly participates in neighborhood cleanup, tree planting and crime watch/awareness...[and] if there is a 5K involved, regardless of the subject or benefit, Maria is always the first to grab her running shoes in show of support,” he stated.

As if that was not enough, Salas is also a founding member of the Tennessee Equality Project and the Nashville GLBT Chamber of Commerce. In fact, Salas was the first recipient of the Nashville GLBT Chamber of Commerce Entrepreneur of the Year Award and has since had the award named after her.

You might think with all of Salas’ contributions there would not be much work left in to do in Nashville. Think again. “Nashville is full of organizations that want and need volunteers so there’s plenty of opportunity to get involved on some level,” Salas said. “My suggestion is to find where your skill or expertise meets your passion.  An early example of this for me was the AIDS Awareness Project of the Nashville Bar Association Young Lawyers’ Division. We coordinated attorneys to donate their time to prepare wills for individuals with HIV/AIDS.”

So what may be her crowning achievement? Salas might tell you having her acceptance photo placed in her daughter’s school lobby. “Having your kid think you’ve done something worthy of the bulletin board is a big deal.”

O&AN salutes Maria Salas for her recognition as MTSU’s Distinguished Alumni of the Year and for all the time and effort she selflessly gives to the GLBT community.



WhistlePig + Alfa Romeo F1

SHOREHAM, VT (September 13, 2023) — WhistlePig Whiskey, the leaders in independent craft whiskey, and Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake are waving the checkered flag on a legend-worthy release that’s taking whiskey to G-Force levels. The Limited Edition PiggyBack Legends Series: Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake Barrel is a high Rye Whiskey selected by the Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake drivers, with barrels trialed in their wind tunnel to ensure a thrilling taste in every sip.

The third iteration in WhistlePig’s Single Barrel PiggyBack Legends Series, the Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake Barrel is bottled at 96.77 proof, a nod to Valtteri Bottas’ racing number, 77, and the precision of racing. Inspired by Zhou Guanyu, the first Chinese F1 driver, this Rye Whiskey is finished with lychee and oolong tea. Herbal and floral notes of the oolong tea complement the herbaceous notes of WhistlePig’s signature PiggyBack 100% Rye, rounded out with a juicy tropical fruit finish and a touch of spice.

Keep readingShow less
by Spectrum Medical Care Center

Nurse Practitioner Ari Kravitz

When I started medical transition at 20 years old, it was very difficult to get the care I needed for hormone replacement therapy because there are very few providers trained in starting hormones for trans people, even though it’s very similar to the hormones that we prescribe to women in menopause or cisgender men with low testosterone.

I hope more providers get trained in LGBTQ+ healthcare, so they can support patients along their individual gender journey, and provide the info needed to make informed decisions about their body. I’ve personally seen my trans patients find hope and experience a better quality of life through hormone replacement therapy.

Keep readingShow less

Descanso Resort swimming pool and lounge area

Descanso Resort, Palm Springs' premier destination for gay men, just received Tripadvisor's highest honor, a Travelers' Choice "Best of the Best" award for 2023. Based on guests' reviews and ratings, fewer than 1% of Tripadvisor's 8 million listings around the world receive the coveted "Best of the Best" designation. Descanso ranked 12th in the top 25 small inns and hotels category in the United States. Quite an accomplishment!

Open less than two years, Descanso Resort offers gay men a relaxing and luxurious boutique hotel experience just minutes away from Palm Springs' buzziest restaurants, nightclubs, and shopping. Descanso has quickly established itself as a top destination for sophisticated gay travelers, earning hundreds of 5-star guest reviews and consistently ranking in Trapadvisor's top positions alongside brother properties Santiago Resort and Twin Palms Resort.

Keep readingShow less