Working as the Communications and Outreach Coordinator for the national nonprofit Attitudes in Reverse, they established partnerships with local conventions that focused on curating safer, more accessible experiences for all.
Though coming to a necessary close in 2020 during the COVID lockdown, what began in 2016 by becoming Mental Health First Aid certified eventually grew to involve fundraising, hosting educational panels, helping run educational events, contributing to the establishment of more inclusive and comprehensive convention guidelines, as well as public speaking as keynote speaker and Advisory Board member.
Throwing themselves into learning the craft of coffee making with an almost suspicious zeal, they worked dutifully within what may have qualified as the strictest and most regimented Starbucks in the region from 2016 to 2017.
Studying within the since-discontinued Coffee Master program, they handcrafted drinks, practiced perfect microfoam pours, and really tried to nail what sort of smells differentiated one light roast from another.
It was thrilling, it was engaging, it was exhausting. It was, genuinely, the most difficult job they've ever had. Despite that, they certainly came away with a deep and abiding love for all things coffee (they do, however, still order decaf).
With training from Sephora and Nordstrom, a passion for cashmere driven by far-too-bitter winters, and a (slight) personal obsession with thrifting quality clothing that stands the test of time, Sterling dedicated late 2017 to early 2020 to offering genuine, heartfelt connection with the ultimate focus of leaving clients uplifted, inspired, and with a new understanding of just how confident they can feel within their own body and wardrobe.
They firmly believe that both self care rituals and what one chooses to drape their body with are never just the sum of their parts. They are self expression. They are ways of honoring oneself. They can instill previously absent confidence, and in doing so, can help self esteem and self worth bloom.
Becoming a certified Peer Health Educator with Family Tree Clinic in June 2014, they served as an active resource for LGBTQ+ youth looking for accurate and affirming health and sexual health related information.
Later, amidst their own gender transition and recognizing the massive lack of information surrounding safe and affordable chest binding, they researched and developed "Safe Chest Binding 101", a panel which they presented at local conventions from 2016 to 2018. It focused on safe and affordable binding options and on what could make one unsafe, as most "binders" in pop culture are made of materials that are incredibly risky to use and often end up conferring permanent physical consequences.