Q&A: Meet Student Legacy Award Winner Brianna McBride
Programs and activities: Black Student Alliance; Afrikan American Affairs; African American Cultural Committee; Global Leadership and Social Impact Program in Cape Town, South Africa, 2019; Fearless Leadership Institute; WIELD; XP3; Black President’s Leadership Council; Big XII Council; Center for the Study of Race and Democracy; UT Campus Tour Guide
Hometown: Northwest Houston
When Brianna McBride first set foot on campus, she quickly joined several student organizations that uplift and empower the Black community. Coming from a close-knit family of entrepreneurs and leaders, she knew she had what it took successfully implement new measures for African American student recruitment and retention. Read on to learn more about her good work on campus, her plans for law school, and why she is proud to be a Longhorn.
McBride will be honored at the Sweatt Symposium on Civil Rights on Thursday, Nov. 5 at 6 p.m. Go here to register for the virtual event.
Congrats on winning the Student Legacy Award! What does this award mean to you?
This award makes me feel like all the hard work I did at UT really meant something. It can be hard being a Black leader on campus because so many things can get in the way, and it can be draining. It makes me realize that true hard work in this community is being acknowledged and celebrated. My goal is leave UT knowing that I made things better—and that’s was this award represents.
What drives you to create support systems for UT’s African American community?
As a young Black woman, I’ve always wanted to do more because I know what it took for me to get here. I come from a very loving, supportive community—and that’s what I always lean on whenever I feel that I don’t belong. I’m only doing my due diligence to work hard to cultivate a supportive community on campus because nobody can do it but us, and nobody can do it better than us.
What are you proudest accomplishments at UT?
I’m proud of my efforts in revitalizing and restructuring the Black President’s Leadership Council. It is now a united voice for the Black community that has captured the attention of UT—and from over 35 Black presidents of various student organizations. Now, the UT administration knows who we are—and that we’re here to stay.
I’m also very proud of my recruitment efforts with the Office of Admissions. While participating in the WIELD program [Women’s Initiative for Entrepreneurship Leadership] program, I came up with the idea to create a recruitment event aimed for prospective Black students to be able to get a better look at the Black experience here on the Forty Acres. I’m thankful for Rubén Cantú, the director of WIElD, for encouraging me to take my idea and run with it. He does a great job helping students connect their passions and interests into a career or new venture with the goal of bettering their community.
Why do you enjoy giving campus tours (now virtual) to prospective Longhorns?
I wouldn’t be advocating so hard for Black students to come to UT if I didn’t love being here. It’s so true that what starts here changes the world. UT is a Southern institution with a lot of issues, but I honestly believe if you come here with good intentions and a passion, you can figure out how and why you can change the world.
What does it mean to you to celebrate the life and legacy of Heman Sweatt?
It is indescribable how it feels to receive this award at an event that honors Heman Sweatt. When I look into the history of Black advocates on campus, I’m amazed at how bold and fearless he was—and how hard he fought to get into law school. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him and all of the Precursors who paved the way for us. When I think of his legacy, I think about what needs to be done for the next generation of Black Longhorns. For me, that means increasing the number of Black students and figuring out what we’re missing so we can try to inspire others to do more. We must honor our past and not forget what we did to get here.
What does the future hold for you?
After speaking with my great professors and mentors Ryan Sutton and Peniel Joseph, I’m applying to the LBJ School and various schools around the nation. I’m very interested in case law regarding affirmative action, so that line of work is definitely in my near future. We have a very strong community of faculty, staff and peers at UT, and that’s the main reason why I want to continue going to school here. On that note, I want to send a big thank you to the DDCE, the Warfield Center, Black Studies, Dr. Edmund Gordon—and all the people who make me proud to be a Longhorn.