Editor’s Note — This Q&A is part of a weekly conversation series that is celebrating Pride Month on the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Medium page.
his week, meet Jayven Brandt, a secondary social science education major from Kearney. On campus, he’s helping others through his involvements, an impact he hopes to continue after he graduates and becomes an educator.
You said you’ve known you’ve wanted to be an educator from a young age. Talk a little bit about that and why you’re passionate about it.
My whole life I’ve known I have wanted to educate others. I love the idea of changing lives for the better and leaving my legacy through the achievement of others. My focus in my educational journey is human rights and diversity. As an African American male with a single mother, I have lots of experience in different minorities. My dream is to change education on a broad scale and hopefully implement a policy where all high schools will require some sort of diversity education courses to graduate.
Is that passion for education what led you to being a peer mentor?
I would say yes, being a peer mentor is like being a teacher on a more intimate scale. As a peer mentor, I not only teach a class about important topics, but I am connecting with other students on an intimate level, and I am helping change their lives. My favorite part of being a peer mentor is when my students no longer feel like my students; when I am excited to see them; and we just act like friends.
Talk about how your identity motivates you to spread a message of diversity and inclusion for all social groups.
As an LGBT African American male, I feel I have a personal responsibility to represent myself. As a black member of the LGBT community, I fall into a much smaller and underrepresented community in the LGBT family. By being in this group, I take it upon myself to spread the message of inclusion and diversity for all, we are all the same no matter who we love or what we look like.
How do your involvements on campus help you make an impact?
Many of my involvements have big and small impacts. In ASUN student government, I can impact campus as a whole and represent my major specifically; however, in activities such as the OASIS student advisory board or even my choirs, I can make an impact by connecting with others. Sometimes the biggest impacts can be when you connect with another and truly show compassion and influence their lives.
Is there anything you hope to accomplish in your lifetime?
In my lifetime I wish to be a large administrator at a university. Some of my aspirations include a dean or a vice chancellor or even a president of a university. My hope is that someday I can require the schools I supervise to require diversity and inclusion courses to obtain their degrees.
What or who inspires/motivates you?
My biggest two influences are my family and my partner. Growing up I had a very normal childhood, single mother, going to school, basic investments however my mother is my full support. My partner is with me every single step of the way supporting me emotionally, and physically. There has never been a day my mother hasn’t fully supported all parts of my life and my partner hasn’t been there at the drop of a hat. Every day I work hard. I do it so when my mom talks about me to others, she is proud to say that is my son!
What is your advice to other Huskers looking to make an impact?
“Do not look past the trees to the forest.” When I say this I mean, you do not always have to think of changing the whole world at once. Many times the most ways you will make an impact in the world and to others is the smaller situations that may be right in front of your eyes. You just have to be willing to look and lend a hand!