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Chauncey Brown
February 15, 2024

Always a Leader: Berry Alum Pursues Education Policy Degree and Research at Harvard

Chauncey Brown ’12 switched majors a few times in college, but her passion for people and education never wavered. Today, she’s earning a master’s degree in education policy and analysis from Harvard with a concentration in global and international comparative education. She’s also gaining experience at multiple levels of education policy: consulting abroad in Ghana and Tortola, working with Boston public schools on the 24/7 Respect project and building a stronger Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging curriculum for Massachusetts superintendents with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Brown credits her success to valuable mentors and opportunities to explore her future during college.

When Brown arrived at Berry, she was an engaged student trying to find her path, eventually majoring in sociology. She was part of an inaugural scholarship group, Leadership Fellows, and served as the Black Student Association President, a member of the President’s Council, a resident assistant and more.

“In these roles and as a Leadership Fellow, I put into context what leadership was,” Brown explains. “This experience has helped me work with a variety of personalities."

She also expresses gratitude for her mentors, the most impactful being education professor
Dr. Beverly Smith. As one of the first African American graduates from Berry College, she went on, among other distinguished accomplishments, to serve as the director of Pathways to Teaching and to teach in Berry's Charter School of Education and Human Sciences.

“Dr. Smith had a deep understanding of Berry as someone who integrated Berry and then returned to teach,” says Brown. “I was in her office every week, and she weathered the storms with me. She was especially influential in helping me navigate Berry as a Black student.”

Cecily Crow, the Lead Fellows advisor at the time, and now the director of alumni relations, also had a formative impact on Brown. “She wanted what was best for each of us and pushed us toward adulthood in real ways,” says Brown. “She was a good listener and possibly the first leader I saw openly admit to not knowing everything — an important leadership example.”

After college, Brown gained teaching experience with Teach for America and at Johns Hopkins University. She also worked in the ed-tech arena, counteracting pandemic-induced learning setbacks. Her work ethic has been fueled with a desire to build and uphold inclusive pathways to success for all children, and she plans to return to Ghana to do qualitative education research after graduation.

“I care deeply about equitable education,” says Brown. “I’ve worked at the district and state levels and hope for more federal and global experiences. My goal is to be an expert at every level. This work is about explaining problems and getting people invested. If you can speak to hearts and minds, that’s where the real work is in injustice.”

Encouraging Berry students, Brown says it’s okay not to choose a predictable career path: “Use college to figure out what you do and don’t like. Have a pocket of people you trust to go to for encouragement. Going in with a specific plan can be limiting. Explore and be open to reflection.”

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