My name is Bria and as you can see by the name of this blog, I am from the city of Grenville in Grenada. Where is Grenada? Well it is at the southern most tip of the Caribbean islands, right before Trinidad. Since we are part of the Lesser Antilles, we are not know as much as you can say …Puerto Rico, Jamaica or Cuba. But no matter how small the island I am proud to be a Grenadian! I currently live in Los Angeles, California…pretty far away from home you might say, but LA or the City of Angels I like to say is like my second home and I also call myself a native Angeleno!
Update currently in Kansas So I may need to change up the name of this blog !
Now as for what this blog will focus on? Well I like to think of it as a way to vent but I got my inspiration from a great novel called ” Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche , the main character, Ifemelu ‘s blog on her experiences as a Non-American Black inspired me so I may through in some perspectives from that. I also hope to get friends to write their blogs and post them here… Hmmm I don’t know what else to add…
Oh Enjoy this beautiful picture of my hometown Grenville or La Baye as it’s known in French.
This is an iconic part of campus. When I just came to KU for Grad Interview Days this was the main street along where the Union was. I had to walk it in the colder than usual temperature that February two years ago. Huffing and puffing I was wondering when we would get to the damn building! We kept passing so many and I was honestly tired with the layers I had. But that didn’t stop me from getting a full view of KU’s campus.
Now I get to KU and began to work in the summer of 2019. Strong hall was located along Jayhawk Blvd. I was not familiar with the building but guess what? I remembered Jayhawk Blvd and how to get there, I walked around taking pictures. I found Strong Hall and was content. Later down the line my first day consisted of walking to the Union. Taking the bus home. Morning meetings with SFL and afternoon tea on Thursdays allowed me to explore the boulevard. Wescoe Beach gave you a great view of everything that passed along the boulevard. Traffic would back up here when classes just got out at 8:45, 9:45 etc. Lunch time with my coworkers made us run across the boulevard and get our crunchy chicken cheddar wraps or simply hang out.
Pre-covid the boulevard was full of students. Winter time the boulevard is covered in snow and sleet. Spring time the tulips bloom near Budig, Strong and Wescoe, beautifying the boulevard. Oh those were the days!
Now,there is nothing, its empty. It’s quite sad honestly….
This is my first time at an institution that had a main street/boulevard go through the campus. KU is really wonderful, and has been a wonderful experience for me. The boulevard marks my introduction to KU and my countdown of things that I will miss the most.
I would like to think I have perfected my Mac and Cheese or Macaroni pie as we call it back home, in such a way that it blends the caribbean and american culture. Macaroni pie is a big deal back home especially on a holiday, one of my favorite cheeses, anchor cheese, from Australia, was my favorite for using in macaroni pie along with evaporated milk butter, salt, black pepper and more. Putting it in the oven and topping it off with more cheese was the icing on the cake! My favorite time of the year to have this was Easter sunday and Christmas. As my own cooking skills got better and I experiemented, I learned the art of the roux and making a cheese sauce, adding that together and voila. Later I learned to combine two different types of cheese. Queso blanco and sharp cheddar make the perfect blend together, topping it off with sharp cheddar and bread crumbs to get that crispy edge. Yum! Below I will give my recipe and how I concoct my Macaroni and cheese pie.
Cheeses of your choice
Salt, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika for taste
Cook your pasta till it is al dente. In a saucepan add butter and let that melt then add some flour and mix it until the consistency is a thick. Then add the milk and mix it a bit. Add some of the grated cheese and keep stiring it until it turns into a cheese sauce, you may need a decent bit of cheese for this. At this point add the seasonings to the sauce mixture.Then add the cooked pasta to the cheese sauce and mix them together. In a separate pyrex dish or foil pan, pour the macaroni mixture in the pan and then add cheese and breadcrumbs on top. Put this in the oven for about half an hour.
I must say, I’ve been extremely lucky to have not experienced much microaggressions at KU as my other counterparts have had to deal with. Lately many students and staff have been expressing their experiences with this (check #blackatku) and it is quite shocking. Our campus is currently in what the kids are saying is a ‘dei failure’ on part of the administration. To be honest, I am saddened that there was a recent shuffle in administration and giving more work to folks that aren’t getting paid for it. Higher Ed I tell ya!
But there was one incident I remembered the other day and I realized how this had an effect on my college of choice to transfer. I initially wanted to attend Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, I fell in love with the school after attending a graduation there 11 years ago and it being a catholic institution was the cherry on top. I thought the stars had aligned for me and it was my destiny to attend there, I visited the campus twice, loved their mascot and the patron saint for the university’s day was the same as my birthday. What could be better?
Then one day I was in the cafeteria at SMC and I knew the admissions counselor for LMU was going to be there so I went up to the table. It was a white woman, and she looked at me, I asked about requirements to attend and what not to make sure I was up to date, she had the audacity to look at me and say ‘ You know this school is hard to get into’ …………… you have an acceptance rate of 44%, please calm the fuck down. She made it seem like I was not smart enought to get in and because I was BLACK that it was impossible! I looked at her, fake smiled and went my way. I never went to LMU and was never excited about that school after that.
I talk about this situation after seeing so many tik tok videos from minority students, mostly black women, who spoke about being discouraged from pursuing fields such as STEM because they were not smart enough or whatever other reasons. Now did I do the right thing? You may have said that I should have proved her wrong. My thing is no, why prove her wrong? The institution may have been the wrong fit for me in the first place and I may waste my time and not have a good experience. Maybe even more micraggressions. I had to overcome alot to get to where I am today and yes I may go through imposter syndrome but then I remember my purpose for pursuing the things that I set myself out to get and then I have faith.
I thank that lady, I got into Higher Ed to help students like me and I have done a damn better job than she has and work at a better insitution!
But this also taught me how damaging microaggressions can be to some students and how if we do not infuse DEI into our work and the students we work with, things will never change and we will continue to see ppl like that admissions counselor I had.
So seems my time, as I sort of knew, is not over in Kansas yet.
It seems Boston is calling for me but not just moving wise yet. I got a job offer, temporary yes , its a ten month appointment, but here is why I decided to risk it and take the opportunity over all the interviews I have had so far :
It is with a prestigious institution and it can open doors for me if I dont stay on past the time.
Possibility that if I do a good job they will advocate to keep me on (asking for the extra funding to keep me)
COVID-19 gave me a damn job, the pay might not be there yet but I want to gain the experience, I felt like I was over reaching it with other positions
They are willing to develop me and work with me
I had a connection in the interview and they found me likable as did I find them also
I can work remote for awhile and stay in Lawrence.
I have a job before graduation and I can work it out with my current GA to move on as needed.
Man, this week has been tough, tougher than I expected it to be. Here’s an update
My office is currently in the process of hiring my replacement for the next two years. Some really good candidates so far and I am impressed! It’s been nice being on the other side however zoom fatigue is killing me more than i thought.
I have also had some interviews this week , one for a temp position at a prestigious school and the other at a big state school I am veryyy familiar with.
What is crazy to be is that I did so well in the temp position job that I was called back almost immediately for an interview. Crazy right? Never had that happen
People are impressed with my resume… what? I have to thank Cat for her expertise and help editing me resume and cover letter, I can’t believe that the offers for interviews are coming in as they would.
Lastly I use my personality to seal the deal… mwahahaha
But to the title of this post, I belong, I belong in Higher Ed, I belong in Student Conduct, and I damn well belong at an Ivy league and working there! I am hoping that imposter syndrome doesn’t kick in. The next interview happens soon!
But I also had to take one of my mentor’s advice… I deserve to choose. I had this one school reach out last minute and already gave a time… so early on a monday morning…. I was like wait… I have the option to not accept this! Not sure what I will do yet but I am currently overwhelmed.
Hopefully things work out.. will update as needed !
It is Valentine’s day, it is cold as hell outside. My valentine and I decided yesterday to cook a savory indian dish called Biriyani, and I must say for my first try at this dish… it came out really well, however it was too spicy and fragrant for me and brought me back to why I did not like it in the first place, so I gave my valentine all the rice, although he did not want to take it. Now I mentioned that it was cold, like 0 degrees farenheit cold… and I absolutely cannot deal. So I got some beef out to thaw and make soup later. First I cut it up into small cubes, then season it with rice vinegar, soy sauce, salt, red chilli powder,salt, black pepper, onion powder,garlic powder, paprika, cumin and a bit of yogurt to soften (which helped). I set that aside for a bit and let it marinade, then I proceed with the rest of my soup. My love for beef soup came from Grandmother, on Saturdays if money was right, she would get beef from the meat market and come home and make soup for us for lunch. Soup on saturday was such a tradition for me and yes I know I’m making it on a Sunday but still reminds me of my grandmother.
dumplings (caribbean style)
In a pot, let your beef boil in a bit of water and seasoning, then add in celery, cilantro, garlic, onions and green onions, for me this helps make a stock. Let that cook properly, it may take an hour unless you use a pressure cooker. Later add carrots and macaroni and let half cook. Dumplings are pretty easy to make, in a small bowl add flour, water and salt. Mix that together until it forms a dough then make smaller pieces to your desired size then flatten it or roll till it looks like a stick. Always add this last to any soup as it takes the least amount of time to cook.ince that cooks let it stand by and voila! You have beef soup. My pictures will leave out the obvious dumplings but hey, it’s still soup.
I always say this is my independence day and not the 4th of July. I just happen to feel more akin to Grenada’s! It’s our 47th year of independence from Britain (I find it hard to believe that not so long ago !) and we are still moving and still thriving on through the mess we have had!
Things I miss about independence back home? Oh my goodness where to start?
Dressing up in national colours the day before and going to school was fun, it was really the only times we were allowed to break the rules of not wearing uniform!
During school eating either the national (preparing too while in Seconday school) or whatever was chosen by everyone, usually roti.
Singing independence day songs
Parade and national speech by Prime Minister
Cooking oil down, our national dish that consists of dumplings, tumeric, breadfruit, pigtails, green bananas, coconut milk etc boiled together. I must confess not my favorite dish.
Parties or fetes ( although I don’t do that much)
It is usually a beach day and I love the beach
The diaspora celebrates, in NY and other communities we are prevalent we celebrate to the max! We even have Grenada day in the summer.
Very different from the US I believe and I absolutely miss this about home.
I recently wrote this for a job as a writing sample so since I have not posted as much this week I thought that I would post my thoughts on this here. Enjoy!
Student Conduct was not something that was ever on my raider when I decided to pursue Higher Education and finding a suitable program. I had a great experience in Residential Life as a Resident Assistant and several of my supervisors encouraged me to pursue this program as they saw my love for it. Interviewing for Grad school I was certain what my path would be, but God had other plans for me. I was offered a Grad Assistantship in Student Conduct, and I did not know what I was getting into but as I went along I began to fall in love with it. From learning about en loco parentis, to Dixon v Alabama and other landmark cases that led to the establishment of a process for student conduct, to learning about KU’s policies and procedures and even facilitating an ethical decision-making workshop, my experience in Student Conduct has indeed been fulfilling and I love to experience more of this as I move further into my career.
When thinking of a philosophy with Student Conduct, I not only think about my office and its mission to foster a holistic learning environment for students through education on our office but to the one phrase when I write my rationale for students when assigning sanctions, ‘ these sanctions were chosen for you to grow and learn from the experience’. As Student Conduct/ Judicial Affairs professionals and sometimes even broader Student Affairs, we want that when students come to us in such a vulnerable moment in their lives that the best thing we can do is pay attention to them, get to know them for who they are and who they aspire to be and find out through our conversation and intervention what cause the incident to happen that they are in your office and gear your sanctions towards helping them to learn and grow from the experience and not be what we like to call ‘frequent flyers’ to your office if they are continuing the behavior. The one thing that I found works for me is that I am transparent and ask the student how they think they will learn from the experience and if they have no suggestions I tell them what we can offer or work on something suitable for them, and if there are mandatory education classes I emphasize the need for these and helping them for the future.
My identity and experience as a woman of color in Higher Education helps with how I work with students and how I see Student Development Theory. I was more mature and developed going through the college system compared to my peers, I had to grow up fast and as a first-generation student, jump through a lot of hoops. I think this is maybe why the theory of Self Authorship by Baxter Magolda really works for me because you see the stages that students go through and how they are presented to you. I constantly see this as I facilitate Hawk Habits, our ethical decision-making workshop. A workshop focused around identity, values and ethics many of the students I see do not yet have a sense of self and are still following formulas or they are at the crossroads. Then there are the few times I see students who have a sense of self and their own ideas and are the author of their life. It just surprises me how students around the same age groups can be so different and I think I have found myself adjusting to that a lot as I work with them.
Finally, being a woman of color in student conduct is rare, and I want to continue to do this job and work in this field because I believe it needs folks like me who would be willing to put in the work and also focus on our students of color in a system that sometimes can be against them. Thank you and I hope you enjoyed my writing sample and learning a bit more about me and why I want to be your Assistant Director for Student Conduct.
Where has time gone? Just the other day I swear I was just starting my first semester of Grad school not too long ago now it’s my last semester? It’s a not a packed one but it is definitely filled with pressure way before it started with job searching going no where at the moment… kinda. I guess I am worrying about it too much to the point I had a stress attack the night before classes start. Although I had not been outright worried it seemed to be catching up to me.
I really want to be able to get a job before the semester ends and I know the rest of my cohort feels the same way and finding it hard to get jobs. I am doing my best and I oray the lord is with me.
Other than that what me as I embark on my last semester ever (for now) of school. Wish me luck! I will most likely do the same thing I did for my undergrad and do a countdown before I graduate.
This past year I have been focusing on my hair a bit more than usual. My hair used to be very long as a teenage and a bit into my early 20s. However I had a bad experience with a hair stylist and since then my hair has been a bit short. I also lost trust in black hair stylist. My hair was thick and difficult to handle so I always depended on others to do my hair. As I got older it seemed that people hated dealing with me and my hair and after a while it did not make sense spending my hard earned money on them. So I went natural and curly but would which between straight hair sometimes. Since I’ve in Grad school I have been wanting to grow my hair and find new products or protective styles that work for me. Unfortunately I cannot pinpoint certain products as recommendation but I can talk about what has works for me currently since I change products so much.
So I dont really have a difficult wash day anymore, I realize as I get older my hair is easier to manage and so forth. In terms of texture I would put myself as 4A so my curls aren’t as tight. Over the winter break I tried to get my hair into protective styles so single braids and cornrows to help it grow faster and then recently I straigthened it with a pressing comb. I also colored it last year because of grey hairs but that didn’t work so my hair is brownish red.
I usually choose saturdays for wash day. I begin by adding apple cider vinegar to wash out any dry scalp or irritation I may have since I have a history of dandruff. After this I use an anti dandruff shampoo, Sulfer or any other shampoo I may have such as Cantu Texture with Castor oil, in my hair, wash about 3 times then I deep condition. I used to use Shea Moisture castor oil deep condition but I switched to Hask Thickening conditioner and adding mayo, egg yolk, essential oils and whisking that together then adding the mixture to my hair and letting that sit a while. It leaves my hair feeling soft and smells great! I always try to let my hair air dry especially if I am not going to press it. I leave it in the towel to get rid of excess water then I proceed to spray it with a leave in conditioner and oil my scalp. I have been using recently Hask Argan Oil leave in and Hair Ors Coconit and Baobab oil (smells great). Then I proceed to braid the hair or put it in a bun (whatever works at the moment). I have been using Marc Anthony curling cream for the curls if I leave them out and it works so well. Eco style gel no longer works on my hair so I had to give it away to a friend. I have not mastered laying my edges becauase I feel like my edges dont want to be laid (no pun intended) but if you have recommendations on how to do this I will gladly look into it.
If I am pressing my hair I quater my hair and dry it with a blow dryer and braid it to keep sections in tact. I allow my flat iron and pressing comb to heat up and carefully section by section I straighten each quater until I finish everything. I also never press my hair bone straight because I don’t ideally find it necessary for my hair. Other than here’s my routine! It’s not the perfect one but it works for me! See pictures below.