October 15, 2019

A Circle of Support

At UW-Superior, Britt Brown found a supportive community that honored her Native American heritage, as well as her future goals.

Britt Brown by Medicine Wheel Sign

 

Britt Brown exudes confidence, humility and competence. Her life story personifies those attributes that spring from a strong sense of heritage, a feeling of belonging, and a focused vision for the future.

Britt is a senior transfer student at UW-Superior, double majoring in biology, and environmental science. A member of the Keewanaw Bay Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe, she grew up in a small, rural community where, “The trees outnumber the people,” she said. It was there that she discovered a love for nature and a vision for her future.

“I am passionate about my culture and for the environment,” she said. “I want to do something where I can combine those two interests, while benefitting my tribal community.”

Longing for more, and finding it at UWS

Britt started her journey toward that goal at a small private college, but said she wasn’t completely satisfied and longed for more.

“One of my mentors, Kat Werchouski , worked at my former college, and when she took the job as Assistant Director for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion here at UWS, I decided to follow her, and I’m so glad I did,” Britt said. “I found there is a lot of support for Native students here, which is huge.”

Britt said she also found the quality of education at UWS exceeded what she had previously experienced. “Professors hold you to a higher standard here,” she said. “The classes are more challenging and engaging, and I feel like I’m getting so much more.”

Britt immediately felt at home at UWS, despite the fact that it was substantially larger than her home community and previous college. She got involved with the Native Nations Student Organization and got a job with the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Department.

“I have made a lot of friends and have found it easy to find people who I relate to and fit in with here at UWS,” she said. “I’ve also really enjoyed how diverse the student population is here. I didn’t expect to find so many people from various backgrounds. It has made my education much more rich and informed.”

Leaving an indelible mark

Britt has achieved at a high academic level while at UWS. She is a McNair Scholar and recently presented a research project at the McNair Research Symposium, in which she investigated wild rice viability at varying water depths in Allouez Bay. As part of the project, Britt developed a new way of collecting sediment samples.

“The project was particularly meaningful for me,” she said. “Wild rice holds a huge significance to the Ojibwe people and is a big part of our migration story and ceremonies. It’s sacred to us. This is exactly the type of work I hope to do in the future for my tribe’s natural resources department.”

Britt has left a lasting impact during her time at UWS and set an example of leadership and accomplishment for many future students to follow. She pitched an idea to the EDI department that was adopted this year to offer a non-credit-bearing Diversity Certificate for students, similar to one that is being offered to faculty and students. She also played a role in the building of a medicine wheel on campus.

“I have found a tremendous support system at UWS,” she said. “Kat, my sister Cassie, who works in the EDI Department, and Jerel Benton , the director of the EDI, are incredible role models for me who inspire me to succeed every day.”

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