‘Creating Students Who are Willing to Push’
Ayanna F. Brown guides students on their growth journey.
As a special way to mark our sesquicentennial celebration, we asked some of our students, faculty, staff and alumni to share their fondest Elmhurst memories, favorite campus stories and hopes for the future of the University. Read along as we roll out the entire series over the coming months.
Associate Professor Ayanna F. Brown, Ph.D., still gets texts, emails and calls from former students—even students who weren’t in her classes—especially African Americans who needed her during their time at Elmhurst, but not limited to them, she says. That’s a reflection of her experience and her idea of what leaders ought to do.
“I was mentored and loved into my profession,” Dr. Brown says. “So I have an exemplary model of what it means to not just teach your students, but to love them through.”
What do you see for the future of Elmhurst?
I see our students changing. I see the bottom-up changing. I don’t see the top-down shifting. I see the maintenance of the status quo top-down, but our students and their own awakenings are creating these little shifts. These shifts are creating students who are willing to push just a little bit more and a little bit differently, to the extent we permit them to push and support how they challenge us.
What’s the most rewarding thing about teaching here?
I have relationships with my students where I’m not their former professor, rather I’m a part of their growth journey. I’m a part of their narrative. I’ve been to students’ weddings. I’ve been to baby showers. I’ve participated in someone’s story, not because I thought I would get something in return, but because we were humanly connecting.
I’ve been to students’ weddings. I’ve been to baby showers. I’ve participated in someone’s story, not because I thought I would get something in return, but because we were humanly connecting.Ayanna F. Brown, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Education
What has been your proudest moment as a professor?
I’m very honored to have done the work I’ve done at Elmhurst. I’ve contributed to the moral consciousness of the campus and increasing the academic and intellectual rigor. I’ve never been one to forbid the truth in my coursework, in my interactions, in my collaborations.
What do you wish everyone knew about Elmhurst?
You can come to Elmhurst and travel the world. You can come to Elmhurst and you can lead and learn how to lead. You can participate in programming and be pushed, but if you don’t see what you want, you can build it. If you put the time in, you truly can have a top-notch experience.