Bryant University is pleased to welcome a new member to the Literary and Cultural Studies Department, Professor Drea Brown. Professor Brown is originally from St. Louis, Missouri. She received her undergraduate degree in English and Creative Writing from Hollins University which is a small, all women’s liberal arts college. For several years, Professor Brown taught creative writing and poetry in group homes and afterschool programs. Her purpose was to shed light on written work as a coping mechanism and how this creative outlet can help heal those impacted by traumatic events.
Her passion and fierce determination did not stop here as she proceeded to earn her master’s degree in Poetry and Women and Gender Studies from the University of Oregon. She then went on to the African and African Diaspora Studies PhD program at the University of Texas in Austin in May 2013. It was here that she became the inaugural graduate from their program, opening the door for others to explore similar topics. While earning her degree, Professor Brown worked as a facilitator for INSPIRE, a feminist program sponsored by the Women, Gender, and Sexualities Studies Department at UT Austin while simultaneously teaching as an adjunct professor at Southwestern University. After graduating in 2017, she worked as an assistant professor at Goucher college teaching Women and Gender Studies.
As a poet at heart, Professor Brown has always tried to maintain a balance between her academic life and her poetic passions. Many of her poems have appeared in literary journals and her book Dear Girl: A Reckoning is a true masterpiece. It intertwines her studies with her passion for poetry as it delves into the complexities of the slave trade while also furthering a conversation with Phillis Wheatley and her experiences through the Middle Passage to Boston. Although Professor Brown’s book reflects the past, it more so refers to the past as something that is still present and needs to be worked through.
As one in six black women in her class by her final year of undergraduate studies, Brown developed an understanding of the importance for people of color to see other people of color in prominent positions. It enables them to envision themselves in these positions as well, regardless of the lack of representation globally. She also believes it is important for non-black students to experience a professor of color as a leader. This experience can be life changing, as it can lead them to a deeper comprehension of themselves and a larger understanding of diversity.
Professor Brown decided to come to Bryant University for a number of reasons. For starters, she commends Bryant’s investment in commitment to business and liberal arts. She also saw teaching at Bryant as an uncompromising opportunity to share both her scholarly self and her poetic self with her students. She is now teaching a lower level Literary and Cultural Studies class as well an upper level Poetry Workshop class, allowing her to intertwine her love for poetry and teaching.
It is a true honor to have Professor Drea Brown in the Literary and Cultural Studies department at Bryant this year. Let’s all welcome her into the Bryant community with open arms and show her that Bryant fosters intellectual, open-minded, critical thinkers that are passionate about success but also about changing the world, just as she is.