Brianna Brown

Advocate for Higher Education

To hear more of Brianna's reflections, check out her video series HERE.

My name is Brianna Brown. Being an empowered women of color is everything - everything - to me. Where I grew up, there was so much violence. Most people don’t even graduate high school. So being a women of color who is working on a Master's Degree at 24 - that shows that I am not a statistic, that I can be that mentor to help others with their education. I’m not willing to give up so easily: I’m willing to work my butt off to get to where. Education means so much to me. 


"Let me tell you about my community: there's lots of trauma: people getting killed, not having enough to eat, not having parents, being raised by grandparents. There's a lot of trauma in East Palo Alto. But college gives you that new experience. That there is more out there in the world than this. You’re able to educate your community on what you’ve learned. Some of our students go abroad, go out of state, see new cultures. It’s that experience: that’s why we get our students to go away to college. If you stay here you have to help your parents, you're not focusing on yourself. I would say college gives you that broad spectrum of everything. For myself, I needed to experience something new. There's not a word to describe it."


"When I did program called Americorps, lots of students were not like me - in terms of economic social status, LGBTQ community, different color. I would encourage students to not be blindsided by that. To educate themselves and not be biased. When I was in the program, I did not know a lot but this is reality we live in, dealing with lots of people. It took a lot for me to open my horizon to learn about other people, in my society—no one knows where I come from. I come from a neighborhood where people are being killed, there's a lot of crime crime, people are poor. And nobody understood me. I had to understand, there are others like me and others who are different."


"I went to college out of state, to a historically black college - I felt like she needed to be around African Americans. I was there by myself, and I used to cry every Friday, I didn’t have any family. I just started making new friends. I interacted with other students to keep myself busy. When I went home, I was so homesick I went home back to back. But after winter break, I slowly realized college is for me. This is where I need to be."


"I changed my major 3 whole times! It's just about exploring: I had to take that science class to realize that’s not for me. People think they need to know it already—but you can explore, can find new things that fit you. Nobody gets it right off the bat. I needed help getting to where I am. Nobody does anything by themselves. Everyone needs hep, that push, that support system, that person you can talk to." 


"Get close to professors. I ws fortunate to have professors who looked like me, and understood me. For a while, I owed money to the school, and my teachers understood that and overrode that to get me into classes, because I had built that relationship. I told them my circumstances, where I’m from, and they’re people too—they understand. I would offer that advice, to get in good terms with professors."