When you spend any amount of time with Briana Martin, you quickly realize that she is one of those special individuals who makes the world a much better place for everyone around her.
In her role as a senior program coordinator and mentor in TRIO SSS (Student Support Services) program at the University of Vermont, Briana provides ongoing support and encouragement for first-generation college students, students with disabilities, and students from lower income backgrounds.
She’s also deeply involved with many other aspects of her community, teaching classes at the Community College of Vermont (CCV), teaching yoga at Living Well and the Mosaic Center for Students of Color, writing a book of poetry, and creating a monthly podcast called "Black to Our Roots" along with three of her friends.
But for nearly a decade, Briana had a special dream that seemed unattainable, until now.
How are you feeling about the Fulbright Award?
I am so grateful! This really is a dream come true. Ever since I was an undergraduate in the UVM Social Work program, I had a desire to apply for a Fulbright. Twice I started the application, but never followed through completely. I was afraid of how competitive the process would be. Third time is a charm. The Fulbright application was an extensive process that helped me lean on my community for support and self-reflect on how far I have come and what I have to offer.
Where will you be going and what will you be doing?
I will be pursuing a Masters of Social Work (MSW) with a concentration in Gender and Women's Studies at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. Through the MSW program, I will be exploring ways to create healing spaces in the face of oppression, focusing on Women and Women of Color.
For the last four semesters I have been taking French at UVM, so I am excited that this Fulbright award will allow me to fully immerse in a French-speaking international city. I'm thrilled to return back to school as an MSW student at McGill and learn from my cohort and my professors. My dream is to become a licensed social worker and a therapist, and I believe this experience will prepare me for that journey.
What is particularly exciting and rewarding about your work?
Moving from the Bronx, I was the first in my family to go to college, and the TRIO/SSS (Student Support Services) program at UVM was a resource that helped support me in my transition. TRIO/SSS is designed to provide additional support and opportunities for students to succeed.
Right after earning my Masters in Student Affairs at Michigan State, I came back to UVM to work for the same program that helped me! This has been the best job because I get to build and foster meaningful relationships with students and witness their growth, triumphs, and stories. I’m also close and connected to incredible colleagues in the Tutoring Center, the Mosaic Center for Students of Color (MCSC), Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS), Student Accessibility Services (SAS), the Advising Center, the various academic Colleges, and more!
What is unique about UVM and the surrounding community?
UVM has been my community for a total of ten years, four years as an undergraduate student, and six years as a professional. I have truly built family and long-lasting connections here. My community is so supportive and loving, and we definitely take care of each other. I also am grateful for the opportunities to expand and grow just like the beautiful seasons and scenery here.
How have your mentors and peers influenced and inspired you?
I’ve been so fortunate to have amazing mentors at UVM who saw my potential from when I was an undergraduate student, and they continue to support me in my professional journey: Bev Colston and the MCSC staff, Celia Cuddy, Suzy Comerford, Robert Nash, and Wanda Heading-Grant. I’m also inspired by my colleagues in TRIO/SSS, CFAS (Center for Academic Success), and DOSA (Division of Student Affairs) who model excellence and passion in supporting students holistically.
What are your plans for the future?
As a future Licensed Clinical Social Worker, I want to support communities on multiple levels through one-on-one counseling, group therapy, and community wellness experiences. I want to uplift, inspire, and support individuals and communities in need through an inclusive social work practice that centers on healing.