College was the last thing on my mind during my senior year of high school. I was enjoying the life of a musician. I am a proud alumna of Pittsburgh’s High School for the Creative and Performing Arts. I was so proud that I could’ve stayed there for the rest of my life. But as the saying goes, there is a life after high school. During my final months of high school I was faced with the challenge of making a decision on which college to choose.
My Mom drove me to school one early morning, and right before I got out of the car she said to me, “You need to make a decision about college, today.” And that was it! I decided that I had to make decision otherwise……well you can fill in the blank. So I went to my counselor Brendan Coyne, and told him the dilemma my mom had put me in. And he begin to say, “Brana, just go to Clarion. You can be financially stable, it’s a great campus, and your sister goes there, so you will have someone to help keep you grounded.” It all made sense! Why go out of the way to find something that’s already there for me? That day I turned in my housing application, filled out some information, and said yes to Clarion University.
From then on everyone around me was proud of my decision. My teacher Lisa Pickett is a proud graduate of Clarion and she was so supportive of me starting my journey here. My music teacher Stephen Neely spoke about one of his co-workers who also is a proud alum of Clarion and helped me to see my opportunities for success here. My mother was excited to see me going to school with my sister and close to home.
I made a happy decision on college but I wasn’t sure of my purpose yet. I wasn’t sure what Clarion would have in store for me, because for so long I felt like I couldn’t be who I wanted to be. So many people in my life restricted my leadership skills to a minimum. I loved high school but I always felt the burden of competition rather than togetherness. When I got to Clarion one of the first slogans I saw was “together we can.” After reading that slogan I knew that could seek help with my confidence in leadership and work together with others. My orientation leader Dave Matthews helped me to find all those great things and people Clarion offers. Every day after that I found mentors who still help me on my journey to a successful career path. These people have helped to realize that purpose isn’t found with one answer, but when you seek your purpose, it is found inside of your deepest heart connection.
My Clarion Journey has led me to be a Leader on Campus and make heart connections with things I love to do. I am now a Student Orientation Leader and Mentor and Communications Department Mentor. I am a part of 2014 cohort of the Emerging Leaders Program. I hold the positions of the Programs Chair for the Black Student Union, Choir director of the Lift Every Voice Gospel Choir, and I serve on the Advisory Board for Leadership and Engagement. I also have a lot of fun with my friends and family, the gospel choir has helped me grounded, and I participated in many on-campus events. Whether it’s singing the national anthem at a game, participating in the Fashion Show, or hosting the Clarion University pageant, there is always something for me to do here at Clarion.
I say all this because Clarion is place where we take students and make them leaders. This year I have the pleasure of presenting the Freshman Leadership Challenge to incoming first year students. This program was created to help students perfect the craft of Leadership so that they may create a future during their time at the university, but also for their lives and future careers. I am a Clarion Golden Eagle because I’ve found my purpose in loving my life and leading others to do the same.