Today we feature Alana Brown, a leader at Rowan University. Alana Brown is a Rowan Global student pursuing her master’s degree in Higher Education with an Academic Advising track. She calls Paterson, NJ in Passaic County her hometown.
This story is part of a series spotlighting campus leaders during Women’s History Month.
What is your role in your organization?
As the graduate coordinator of the Orientation & Student Leadership Programs (OSLP) department, I work with data and administration for OSLP as well as for the Office of Greek Affairs. I help students with program initiatives on campus and serve as one of their advisors. I also work with the Leadership Rowan Program. For this program, I coordinate the Mentor and Mentee Matching Program and also serve as one of the facilitators for the Leadership Seminars. I am also coordinating the Celebrating Leadership awards this year.
OSLP hosts the orientation events that all new students first attend when they come to campus. We host all of the summer orientations and a few in the winter. We also do some transfer orientations as well. Everything the Leadership Rowan Program and the Office of Greek Affairs do is under the OSLP department.
What have you learned in your role as a leader?
I’ve learned that it is something I should be a part of. I know that I should contribute to higher education. I know how important my role is for the students and how I can be a liaison between students and staff. I think it is very important to advocate for students because some may feel like their voice is [unheard]. Knowing that I have that bridge, I know that I have a voice and that my voice should be heard. I’m going to advocate for my students. It’s very important to at least have students come to me and feel comfortable enough to express how they may feel about campus and life. Students will remember you for a lifetime if you make an impact.
What’s your favorite memory as a leader or at Rowan in general?
My favorite memory was connecting with Chase Campbell and Mike Nash. They came to me about an event they wanted to host on campus. The conversation organically flowed and we built a strong advisor and student relationship. Connecting with those two students has made such an impact on how I want to be [helpful] for other students at my next institution. That moment is when I realized that this [path] is definitely for me.
When you’re in grad student as a student and a staff member, you have this scale. You always wonder if you’re a student or a staff member. It always puts me in a place where [I realize], “Wow, I’m making an impact but I’m still learning how to make that impact.” It’s so important for me to be in this role. Without it, I would not have realized what I want in the future.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
I see myself still working in education, but also have my own nonprofit. I want to have a program that provides a space for Black and brown people to create art, especially if they cannot afford to create art [my program] is there to support them. I have always wanted something of my own to pass on to my community and others. I see myself owning my own business and also still advocating for students. There are limited spaces for Black and brown people; it’s okay to chase your passion. You don’t have to just go to school, sit in a classroom for four years and just learn a skill because you need to make money. It’s ok to want to be an artist. Your art and your passion will bring you clientele. Art keeps me going.
Who inspires you and why?
My mom is very supportive of my dreams. As many times as she wanted to give up, she always found a way to get it done. My mom has sacrificed a lot for me and my brother. There are not enough “Thank You’s” in the world I can say to her. She’s the best.
What’s the most significant barrier to women today?
That’s a hard question because there are so many. We still are not allowed to have a voice. We are told to “let things be how they are.” You step into spaces that may not be diverse. Many times, I’ve been the only Black woman in the room. If I were to speak up, I would be pictured as the “loud, angry Black woman.” I still struggle with this. I want to use my voice, but when I speak people say “she may be angry.” I’m not angry, I’m passionate.
Showing up as your whole self is key. It’s hard being a Black woman. I have to show up in spaces and sometimes keep my mouth shut because I don’t want to be perceived as angry or upset. I don’t regret anything that I have to say. That just makes me, me. I am a bold, Black woman and that’s never going to change.
What advice would you give to the next generation of leaders?
Always own yourself, [your voice]. Always advocate for what you know is right. Be the change that you want to see. If you don’t like something, speak your voice. That voice should never be silent. Anything that you’re passionate about, your voice should never be silent.
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