The Brown Education Department would like to share an interview given to the Brown Graduate School by Branta Lockett, AM ’16, about her experience in the Brown Executive Scholars Training (BEST) program. BEST, established in 2010, is designed to expose doctoral and advanced master’s degree students to careers in higher education administration. Every fall, eight to 10 graduate students are chosen to participate in this 12-week mentored, education and training program, which is sponsored by the Graduate School and the Office of Institutional Diversity.
How did you hear about the BEST program? What made you want to apply?
I initially heard about the BEST program while attending Admit Day in March 2016. During this event Dr. Wong, Chair of the Education department, mentioned that several of the Urban Education Policy students participated in the BEST program and had great experiences. I decided to apply to the BEST program because I wanted to learn more about higher education administration. In particular, I wanted to learn how administrators can use their positions to help create environments that support the success of marginalized students at a university.
How has or how will this program help you in your career or studies after Brown?
This program will help me in my career because it exposed me to different leadership styles. I learned practical skills that I can use in professional settings.
Did you already have a career plan in mind? Has this program influenced you in any way to change/alter it?
Before participating in the BEST program, I considered a career in higher education administration. The BEST program convinced me to continue pursuing my interests in higher education administration and to even start looking for jobs that combine higher education administration with education policy, which is what I studied at Brown.
Who was your administrative sponsor and what did you learn or enjoy about working with him or her?
Dr. Gail Cohee was my administrative sponsor. I enjoyed speaking with her about her position [as Director of the Sarah Doyle Women’s Center and Associate Dean of the College] and how she uses her administrative role to help improve the experiences of students at Brown University. I also enjoyed learning about her career path to becoming a senior administrator.
What piece of advice provided by the speakers resonated most with you?
Dr. Liza Cariaga-Lo, Vice President for Academic Development, Diversity and Inclusion, gave us great advice for how to manage encounters with students and faculty who are upset or distressed about a given situation. She explained to us that the person is most likely upset because they are really passionate about the situation. Therefore, it is important to not only listen to their concerns but to really try to understand their perspectives and consider those perspectives as you try to help them resolve their concerns. Administrative work is demanding but it is important to honor how others feel and let them know that you care while also remembering not to take their criticisms personally. This is practical advice that is useful for working with people in any setting.