Advocating across campus

BrieAnna Reedus dedicates her time at UC to advocating and building community for students of color

Seven weeks before she began her BSN at UC, BrieAnna Reedus took part in a summer orientation for Leadership 2.0, a program the College launched in 2013, to increase recruitment, retention and academic success of underrepresented and economically disadvantaged students. Her father, a College alumnus, said the Black students in the program with her might turn out to be some of her only Black classmates. Although College
leaders are committed to fostering a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment through Leadership 2.0 and other student-outreach initiatives, Reedus, now a third-year student, is raising the bar across campus to make sure all students feel like insiders.

“One of my main [goals] is making sure that people who look like me don’t have to go through the same struggles that I did,” she says.

For Reedus, championing inclusion is nothing new. In high school, she and a few friends started an educational diversity club for students to discuss topics like race and privilege. Within the College, Reedus has continued her leadership in this realm. She serves as a mentor for the iLead program, which pairs first-year students with upperclassmen to offer guidance and support, and is president of AMBITION, an organization focused on providing
community for minority nursing students. During the pandemic, an especially difficult time to build and maintain community, Reedus helped facilitate online programming for classmates.

“AMBITION might be the only community that some of our students have,” she says.

In addition, Reedus has looked beyond the College to make connections and find leadership opportunities that make a difference for minority students. She has been actively involved with UC’s African American Cultural Resource Center (AACRC). As a second-year student, Reedus participated in the AACRC’s inaugural Sankofa Leadership Institute class, exploring ways to create positive change on campus for Black students; she is a three-time
recipient of the AACRC Kunjifunza Medal, an academic excellence award; and this year, Reedus competed in the AACRC’s annual pageant/competition to be crowned Miss
Kuamka and serve as an AACRC student ambassador, alongside the Mr. Kuamka winner, for the upcoming academic year. Reedus ran on a platform focused on increasing health literacy in the Black community and was named runner-up.

BrieAnna Reedus and a friendstanding by the Darwin T. Turner Scholars sign

BrieAnna Reedus (left) with a friend at the Darwin T. Turner Scholars End of Year Celebration

“I want to do as much as I can to change the culture here, whether that’s directly in the College of Nursing or on campus, because those are two places where I spend a lot of my time,” she says. Reedus — who was directly admitted to the BSN program, is a Darwin T. Turner Scholar and served as service director for the scholars’ program —
wants to eliminate the wrongful and marginalizing
assumption that minority students who study nursing are not directly admitted as freshman into the program, along with other discriminatory thoughts and conversations.

Even with those experiences sharp in her mind, Reedus says she feels fortunate for her support system and the alumni who have offered advice and want her to succeed. This summer, Reedus plans to complete a mental
health-focused clinical rotation at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. And while she is still deciding which nursing specialty to pursue after graduation, she is determined to be an advocate for all her patients.

"I’m always cognizant of what my patients look like, because they might not feel comfortable if they don’t see a person who looks like them,” Reedus says. “We talk about patient-centered care and culturally competent care all the time, but you can only learn so much from lectures and textbooks; some of it is just lived experiences.”

By: Katie Coburn