UC’s executive director of identity and inclusion makes a space for multi-racial students

When speaking to the idea of inclusion, one common principle is at the core; understanding and appreciating the qualities that reside in another person, regardless of differences in their life experience. Between every individual exists commonalities that link us all together under the umbrella of human experience. The key to an inclusive atmosphere is understanding how similar all our daily obstacles are.

Turner scholars 2013  -  Brandi Elliott

Brandi Elliott | Photo/UC Creative + Brand

Arriving at the University of Cincinnati in 1997, diversity advocate Brandi Elliott, EdD, has been carrying out the spirit of acceptance throughout the student body and faculty. Currently, Elliott serves as the executive director of Identity and Inclusion at UC, overseeing the office of Ethnic Programs and Services (EPS), The African American Cultural and Resource Center (AACRC), the LGBTQ Center, and the Women’s Center. Within her role, Elliott focuses on providing a welcoming atmosphere for UC's multi-faceted student body. Keeping the ideas of open-mindedness and community in mind, Elliott works with UC's diversity offices to create a space on campus where students of color and underrepresented students can be truly authentic to themselves.

There's enough on the table for all of us to succeed.

Brandi Elliott

Following her pre-college tenures within predominantly white schools, Elliott became fascinated with the promising future that a diversity-focused university could bring. Upon arriving at UC, the first opportunities she found were inside EPS and the AACRC, where she spent a large portion of her time. She was involved heavily with these organizations, joining the AACRC choir and partaking in various diversity efforts, originally introduced to her through the requirements of the Darwin T. Turner scholarship she was awarded. Utilizing the knowledge from her bachelor's degree in psychology, Elliott began pursuing diversity efforts on a mentorship basis, following suit of one of her role models, Dr. P. Eric Abercrumbie.

"EPS and the AACRC allowed me to be with my people unapologetically," Elliott says. "I was learning a lot about culture and myself."

Elliott first met Dr. Abercrumbie through their shared involvement in both EPS and the AACRC, where he provided her with the necessary guidance toward a career of helping marginalized students.  

One quote in particular, which Abercrumbie said during the “Black Student Welcome” in 1997, stood out to Elliott when initially considering her purpose at UC: "Black students, don't come to this white institution and learn nothing about yourself."

headshot of Brandi Elliott

Upon first hearing Abercrumbie's speech, Elliott realized the opportunity for introspection that being at UC brought and how important it was for her to contribute towards creating a brighter tomorrow.  

Abercrumbie, who mentored Elliott throughout her collegiate years, influenced her decision to obtain a master's degree. After considering her ability to guide and interact with students, Elliott decided to pursue a master's degree in the College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH) mental health counseling graduate program.  

My path is because of those who have poured their knowledge into me and guided me along the way.

Brandi Elliott

While completing her master's degree, Elliott continued contributing to the well-being of underrepresented groups at UC, maintaining strong ties to EPS, the AACRC, and various diversity-centric organizations. She later obtained a doctoral degree in Urban Educational Leadership from CECH.

Outside of her work at UC, Elliott serves on the YWCA board, where she advocates for issues regarding the eradication of racism and safety for women. In 2020, Elliott was named YWCA's Career Woman of Achievement. Additionally, she is a board member of Northside Preparatory Academy, where she puts the same emphasis on inspiring youth. 

As she works today, Elliott looks to instill a sense of representation and advocacy into UC's culture. Within her new role as the Executive Director of Identity and Inclusion in the Division of Student Affairs, Elliott's goal is to inspire a new generation of mentors who can provide the same guidance that Dr. Abercrumbie once gave her. In Elliott's eyes, the first step is to listen and approach conversations with an appreciation for others.  

"If we can just see people and understand their experiences, empathize — we'll be better off," she says. 

The College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH) is proud to begin its ongoing diversity awareness campaign, "BE Historic," with Black History Month, highlighting notable alumni making a change in their respective fields.

Featured image at the top by Pixabay

Headshot of By Luke Bisesi

By Luke Bisesi

CECH Marketing Student Worker, Department of Journalism, College of Arts and Science

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