Kellen Stepler | features editor
Nov. 4, 2021
It’s all about impact for Brandon Stewart.
Stewart, a senior studying psychology at Duquesne, has worn many hats during his time on the Bluff. Whether it’s at his job at the Center for African Studies on campus, or his involvement in clubs and other organizations, Stewart loves doing things “with impact.”
Originally from Sarasota, Florida, Stewart sat down with Off the Bluff reporter Kellen Stepler to talk about his job, his time at Duquesne and what’s next.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Why Florida to Pennsylvania?
Stewart: I feel like I get that question a lot. I know a few alumni from Duquesne who are now residents in Florida, and they introduced me to Duquesne and all the programs here. I was able to visit Duquesne my junior year of high school, and then I knew that Duquesne would be a good fit for me. The campus is gorgeous. I thought it would be an easy transition into an actual city coming from the suburbs of Florida. It turned out well; I acclimated nicely freshman year. And here we are about to graduate, on the cusp of having a degree.
What are all the things you’re involved in on campus?
Stewart: My sophomore year, I was the president of Lambda Sigma, the sophomore honor society. That really kept me busy. I was a senator [for Student Government] at one point, I led the Career Closet on campus for some time. I worked with Linda Donovan in Campus Ministry on working on getting professional clothes for students who can’t afford it themselves for interviews and jobs and things like that. I thought that was really great because I love doing things with impact, so I feel like that role was a good fit for me.
Outside of student club organizations, I work at the Center for African Studies. I’ve been with them for three and a half years now, and it’s been awesome. The team is amazing. I feel like I’m able to serve a greater purpose in my role there. I’m an undergraduate assistant, that’s my official title, I guess. Being able to spread awareness about Africa, African countries, and the culture and traditions has been really fun. I love it, and it sometimes it doesn’t even feel like work.
You said you love doing things with impact. What or who in your life inspired you to do things with impact? What instilled that quality within yourself?
Stewart: I would say the Boys and Girls Club. I was with the Boys and Girls Club since second or third grade, and I’ve been there since graduating high school. They’re centered around community service, volunteering, giving back. Being a part of that definitely impacted me and instilled that aspect of giving back to communities. And, just staying involved as much as possible. Volunteering and community service …just felt like a natural thing for me to do.
Let’s go back to your job at the Center for African Studies. Why did you want to work there?
Stewart: It actually started off as a work study position. I interviewed with the team and then I got hired, and then I transitioned out of work study into a department-funded role. It really just stumbled into my lap, and I’m not mad about it.
What’s a normal day like at your job?
Stewart: I work Monday through Friday, but different times each day to work around my class schedule. A day to day would really consist of prioritizing any projects that my manager might give me. Most times, it’s social media related. I manage our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter handles. So, I post our events that are coming up. I keep our center webpage up to date. Looking out for things like that and staying active on social media are a big thing for us.
One of our big things this year is recruitment. So, we’re working on ways to attract students to the African Studies and Global Health programs. Mainly my days consist of social media, looking for different areas of improvement in terms of our web page and recruitment. A big part of that consists of collaborations like working with [other student employee] Cassie [DiBenedetti] and my manager. It’s a team effort.
You mentioned that you do classroom programs. What do you do for that? What is that like?
Stewart: It’s just like a classroom presentation on our program. I’ll go in at the beginning or end of a class and speak about the purpose of our Center, our African Studies interdisciplinary minor and secondary major, and our new global health interdisciplinary minor. I talk about the program and the different credit requirements. And just advocating the heck out of everything we do.
What are the challenges of your job?
Stewart: One challenge would be brainstorming different ways to get students to participate in our events, and [to] increase the number of students participating. Increasing more students in our program, I think, is one challenge that the center more broadly experiences.
On the other hand, what’s the most rewarding thing about your job?
Stewart: Being able to speak to and spread awareness about all the rich things that come with the continent of Africa. I think that’s the best part of my job, and something I’ll definitely be proud of after graduating. I feel happy that I’ve been part of something a lot bigger than myself.
What kind of work does the center do in the community?
Stewart: Most of our initiatives are done in-house on-campus. But in terms of our Marketplace, those vendors come in from all over the community. Most times, we bring the community to Duquesne and have them get involved with students on campus.
We’re going to be attending this event with this organization called Open Field. They do a lot of work with education and mentorship with youth in the community. We’re going to support their event for the year, it’s pretty much a fundraiser and they’ll be having African music, food, and different learning opportunities, so we sponsored a table at that event.
During your time at Duquesne, what are some of the biggest things you’ve learned about yourself?
Stewart: I’ve grown to love my independence. It’s something that comes with going to college and not being a dependent anymore. Living off campus, signing my own lease and commuting to school and class and having a full day of things to do is one thing that I have grown to love. I just love having a schedule; being productive.
What’s your goal in life?
Stewart: Oh gosh, that’s such a hard question. I definitely want to graduate; that’s one goal in itself which is going to happen. Another thing is working somewhere after I graduate that would allow me to be completely authentic, and somewhere that would also support my interest in this area of impact. So, I’m happy to say that I have found that place. Last summer, or two summers in a row, I interned at Goldman Sachs, and I have like completely loved it. I’ve accepted my return offer for full time. I know that my position will allow me to keep up with some of the service initiatives that I’ve started here on campus into a more corporate role. So that’s been a goal that I know and feel confident in achieving after graduating and going into like my full time job.
Describe yourself in one word.
Stewart: I feel like whenever I go or do anything, I just show up as my complete self. I feel very genuine in all of my interactions with people, and I feel like that has helped me to socialize and be able to really come to find people that align with who I am. I think being able to show up as your full self everywhere, helps attract similar energy to your life. So I found that to be something pretty representative of just like my circle of people that I surround myself with, and the type of person that I am to others.