Meet Bejeana Breneville: Student Activist and Trailblazer for Change

I first met Bejeana (or Bej for short) before I was even an actual Terrier, at an event called Multicultural Community Weekend (MCW). This grand scale event, run by the Admitted Students Diversity Board (ASDB), invites hundreds of admitted students from diverse backgrounds to stay on campus for three days and two nights in the Spring. The main goal of this event is to exhibit the diversity that is alive and vibrant here at BU.  Because I come from a Latino background, I was invited to attend the event and as fate would have it, Bejeana was my host.

What I thought would be just a fun three days in Boston turned out to be so much more and I still see the effects of MCW to this day. For starters, it was what convinced me that BU was the place for me. It also introduced me to one of my best friends here (shout out to you, Sofia!), allowed me to have the experience of living in a StuVi 2 dorm, and introduced me to one of my biggest inspirations (you guessed it) Bej!

I thought that once MCW was over, the most I would see of Bej would be an occasional wave on Comm Ave and that’s it. Boy, was I wrong!

Our paths crossed again when I applied to become a tour guide for BU. Part of the application process for becoming a tour guide is a group interview, and because she is a student leader within the program, she was actually one of the people who interviewed me! Oh, and the coincidences don’t end there. Once I became an official ambassador and member of ASDB, I found out at our semesterly retreat that I would be apart of Bej’s Mentee group in the program.

You may be asking yourself: “What is it that makes this girl so special?” For starters, throughout her time at BU, she has been involved in multiple student organizations with a focus on diversity and multiculturalism.

As we chatted in one of the break rooms in BU’s admissions building, she told me about all of the ways in which she has participated within the Terrier community.

“I love being involved,” she told me–and involved she is! She currently works as the Community Link coordinator within ASDB and is also the director of programming for BUNITED, a student-led conference that works to develop a sense of community for active change and discussion.

It was because of her work in ASDB that I was inspired to write about her. Bej is the committee organizer for Community Link, a relatively new committee within ASDB, which puts her in charge of connecting with other diversity groups on campus.

“The big mission is to make sure that ASDB is known and to make sure that people know that we can collaborate,” she told me. “For me, one big thing is making sure that it’s a broad diversity board in all spectrums. Because it’s so easy–especially at BU–when you hear the word diversity to just focus on the Latino or Black student organizations, but I always want to make sure we focus on sexual diversity through the Center of Gender and Sexuality and including Asian students and Pacific Islanders as well.”

Ways that she and her team have reached out to other student organizations across campus this semester have been through tabling at different welcome receptions and crafting thank-you candy grams to give to the E-board members of various organizations, “Just to say thank you, not for what they have done for ASDB, but for what they have done for the community.”

When we spoke about goals for the next semester she talked about her dreams of creating a ‘Student Org World Cup,’ so that organizations know that they can broaden their horizons and collaborate with organizations that represent various groups. 

Bej is also an RA in South Campus, something that she thought she wouldn’t get. She applied to be an RA and a committee organizer in her junior year and didn't get either. “It just goes to say you just have to keep going with what you really want. Just because you don't get it the first time, doesn’t mean you won’t get it the second time!”

Among all of the things she is involved in, the one that she considers her ‘baby’ is the BUNITED conference. This year’s theme focuses on the future in every sense of the word, allowing students from different backgrounds to talk about topics such as the environment, technological advancements, and the future of people in marginalized groups.

As a student leader for so many different organizations, she sometimes forgets the student part of her title and has to remind herself that throughout her time in college, she is a student first. “I was a part of MCI (Minority Connection Initiative) since my sophomore year, but I recently stepped down.” Her ability to stay grounded amongst all of her various responsibilities has helped her to live a balanced student life as she enters the last semester of her time at BU.

She has even helped to encourage support for underrepresented students from the faculty at BU by working with administrators in COM to create a panel for first-generation students and talking to professors about ways in which they can show that they are available.

“I just love to help people,” she said after describing her involvement. As the conversation passed, we talked about what her driving force is in helping others, and what her mission and end goal are for all of this. This is what she said:

“I had this crisis in my junior year. I just didn't know what I wanted to do in life. I used to think hobbies are hobbies and I never really saw them as jobs or something I could do as a future. I found this quote on Pinterest that said ‘Listen to your passions, they're connected to your purpose,’ and I was like oh my God! There’s just something that is so rewarding from helping your community. I do these things because I wish I had this when I was applying for college. I struggled so much my senior year of high school because I just didn’t know college. I see people so stripped of hope and I want to give that hope back. If I know information, why would I hold it back? If there is something I can do so that a person doesn’t have to be struggling, then I’m going to do it. ”

We ended the interview with a tight hug, and after I turned off my recording app, we sprung into another impromptu conversation about our lives, struggles, and faith. As we talked and laughed together I was able to see something truly special in Bej. When she spoke, it was clear that everything that she had to say was genuine. She lives her life and spreads her truth, with full authenticity. She is always unapologetically herself. Her hard work to help people who are underrepresented within the bigger community is truly inspiring.

I wish that I could somehow selfishly keep her at BU forever, but I know in my heart that her impact within this community is only the beginning and that she will definitely do amazing things! 

 

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