By: Kiera Mitru
Growing up in Guiderland, New York, Brianna Brown ‘20, G’21 found herself expressing her ideas and exploring the world around her through art. From art classes in high school to creative hobbies on the side, Brianna would bring her ideas to life through crafts and conversation.
When entering college, Brianna had initially sought out schools with engaging art programs, but her parents had advised her in a more practical direction. Looking at Siena, Brianna found that the school of business, specifically the marketing program, offered her a unique opportunity to bridge her two interests, art and business.
Brianna has taken full advantage of her Siena education, graduating with a major in marketing, with a concentration in digital marketing and communications, while also picking up a creative arts multimedia minor. Now a graduate student in Siena’s MBA program, she is following a concentration on a strategic management track in order to further “march forward” as a Siena Saint. Since starting her education at Siena, Bri has realized that business can be about more than balance sheets and watching the stock market. Infact, she has successfully integrated her artistic background into the world of business.
Brianna’s perspective expertly communicates the importance of art to those that are business oriented, as well as the influence of business to those that are more artistically-oriented. “There’s a lot more to marketing than people think”, Brown shares, noting that her view of a traditionally rigid field of study takes on more meaning and artistic liberty. “Marketing is the most vital part of a business because no one is going to understand what a balance sheet is or what an annual report is, but they will recognize your logo and what you stand for, which is the aspect of marketing that calls to me the most”.
A lot of how a person or a business is perceived is in how they market themselves. Brianna is fascinated in curating the image one projects among their audience. In her Digital Marketing course, MRKT 327, Brianna reached a turning point. In this class, Brianna recognized just how much we collectively underestimate the role that digital media plays in our spheres of communication and representation. Siena’s liberal arts mission allowed Brianna to get a more holistic education, stressing the importance of the real-world applications of the lessons she is learning every day.
If there is anything the past year has taught us, it is that not all learning happens within the bounds of the classroom. Now with online learning, the social and cultural relevance of the global pandemic, and a renewed focus on racial justice, it is impossible to “learn in a vacuum”. During the summer of 2020, the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others sparked the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement. The activism and conversation that took place over the summer motivated Brianna and millions of others into action.
As a young Black woman, Brianna felt the need to tell her story, because she is not sure how much time is left. In writing this article, Brianna exposed some of the harsh truths of her childhood and her continued lived experience. While Brianna’s piece was supported by friends, family, and community members, she found that some had changed their perspectives. In putting her face and name to some of the pains of microaggression and racial tension, Brianna was forced to reckon with specific moments she has experienced – many of which she thought she had forgotten.
In her article, Brianna shares, “Throughout my life, I have been grateful to not have to endure the hardships that many other people of color have had to. I’ve never personally lost someone to police brutality, I’ve never been harmed by law enforcement, I’ve never witnessed a trauma happen in front of me. This doesn’t mean that I haven’t experienced micro-aggressions or hatred.”
Brown shares that her experience just scratches the surface of those other Black individuals live from day-to-day. Driven to participate and lead discussions surrounding the African American experience, Brianna contributed to a platform that continued the conversation sparked by the events of summer 2020. She has since “decided to take a step back in order to focus on other opportunities and projects in my life at the moment.”
Since stepping back, Brianna has recognized that she misses having that creative outlet and sharing her work with others. Recently, she has been organizing and working on a new project that more specifically embraces her creative talent and motivated activism. With her extensive business background, Brianna can utilize her strengths in order to further mend her creative vision into a message she can share with others.
As Brianna looks ahead to a new project and a new semester, she is excited to greet the new opportunities that will continue to shape and impact her learning journey at Siena. Her ability to mix and match her college courses has allowed her to create an educational mosaic in which she sees herself and her interests represented. Just as Brianna believed that the final semester was a culmination of all that she had accomplished, she found new ideas and avenues along which she can continue to collaborate, create, and pave the way for the future.