Hometown: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Major: Doctor of Philosophy in Cultural and Educational Policy Studies
Expected date of graduation: 2020
Briellen has co-authored multiple articles in prominent academic journals (including Educational Policy, Journal of Critical Education Policy Studies, and The Urban Review), published an independently authored piece on mixed racial identity, co-authored a book chapter, and served as a founding editorial board member at a Loyola-sponsored journal (The Journal of Critical Scholarship on Higher Education and Student Affairs). She passed her comprehensive exams with distinction and has excelled as an adjunct instructor of multiple undergraduate and masters-level courses.
Beyond her academic achievements, she has demonstrated profound and productive engagement with communities of color within and beyond Chicago. She has served as an elected member of her Local School Council and spoken at the LUCES Women of Color Leadership Summit at Loyola.
Here, Briellen discusses the impact of her experience on the Local School Council and her dedication to educational equality.
What was the most meaningful volunteer, service, or student organization activity you’ve been involved in? How has it influenced you or shaped you as a person?
While at Loyola, I had the opportunity to serve as a representative on the Local School Council at Swift Elementary. As a parent, I worked with teachers, staff, and community members to create the kind of community that could support children and families from many cultures and backgrounds. It was rewarding to be an active part of a community where people speak more than 60 languages and come from all around the world. It completely expanded my understanding of diversity and changed the way I see my community.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from your Jesuit education?
The most valuable lesson I have learned from my Jesuit education is that love is an invaluable and irreplaceable component of teaching and learning. This is not a romantic love; it is the passion and motivation for what we do in this world. In a recent conversation with fellow Schmitt Dissertation Scholars, we were reflecting on the pressure we place on ourselves to be excellent in our work, and that we often think that means engaging intellect, not heart. In fact, being at a Jesuit institution has taught me that I am here because of my love for justice, for my community, and for the work I do. Without it, education is not humane or complete.
What do you hope to achieve after college, and how has Loyola prepared you?
I have dedicated my life to working for systems change in education. I am devoted to anti-racist educational spaces for all young people. I believe that every child deserves the care, compassion, and support they need to be successful and fulfilled in the world. Loyola has prepared me to pursue this mission through my personal and professional paths. At Loyola, I have been challenged to think bigger and deeper.