Today we feature first-generation college student Eliya Bravo, a leader at Rowan University. Bravo is the founder and president of the Women of Color Alliance and vice president for both the Students For Caribbean Awareness and Rowan Universities Club Swim Team. Bravo is also the public relations rep for the United Latinos Association and a member of UGOODFAM, a forum for fostering mental health for minorities founded by Dr. Kha Sadler. Bravo is a junior in the Athletic Training program and is from Newark, NJ (Essex County).
This story is part of a series spotlighting campus leaders during Women’s History Month.
What have you learned in your role as a leader?
What I have learned as leader is that in order to be one you cannot just be someone who gives orders or instills power in order to have authority over others. No, leaders care about the community or their cause and have the determination and persevering attitude to actually get things done and create the change they want to see. What is most important to remember is that a leader is nothing without their people, without those who support them, follow them, love them.
For myself, I would be nothing without my support and if I don’t know personally each and every person who is supporting me as a leader then I am neglecting to understand the very reason I am even in the position to lead.
What’s your favorite memory as a leader?
My favorite memory as a leader has got to be the “Say Her Name” protest hosted by WOCA in honor of Breonna Taylor and all of the fallen lives due to injustice in this world. Seeing that so many different communities on campus wanted to cosponsor that event with us (over 20 Rowan organizations were in participation) it made me feel like I was one step closer to the vision I had for my organization, which was to end the division within our own communities and to unite in face of strife but also in times of light.
I must also say I was immensely proud of my organization for pulling it all together in less than a month. It started as a simple conversation a single text I sent in a groupchat, and then next thing we knew we were marching the streets of Glassboro leading our very own protest alongside so many supporters. It was all so touching to see.
Who inspires you and why?
I can honestly say I don’t have one sole inspiration, for my inspiration comes from God himself and the people around me. Truly by observing and living in the environment I am in with my friends and family, watching the things they do hearing their stories and what choices they make in life. It gives me this genuine inspiration that you can’t get from a famous actress or athlete, it is pure. Without my best friend Naseer Jefferson (treasurer of BCL) or my right hand Alayna Harrison (VP of WOCA) or David Malomo (President of STF) or the rest of my eboard or Alexis Taylor, Sumayyah Hayes, or general members for each organization I am a part of, my parents, my siblings, hometown best friends, and the list goes on and on. My greatest inspirations, the people who make me want to do what I do, are the very people who surround me everyday.
What’s the most significant barrier to women today?
I believe our most significant barrier to women today is ourselves. We lack unity in a society that already aims to divide us from the rest of the world. I think in society today some women forget we are meant to build each other up and stick together on one front rather than see each other as competition. The world has pitted women against women for centuries, especially women of color, and as a result we have this mindset that what one attains and achieves, takes away from what another has when in reality we can all win!
I think it’s time we started to realize that this world is against us and always will be so let’s not be like them and be against our own, let’s stand together.
What advice would you give to the next generation of leaders?
I would tell future leaders that no matter what anyone tells you that you can and cannot do, DO IT. It might be difficult and people closest to you may not understand your growing determination or passion for your cause, but do it. Because no matter what, you will do what you are meant to do and your initiative will help someone.
Is there anything else you would like to include for the blog post?
To all my POC, break that glass ceiling.
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Marian Suganob, senior public relations and advertising double major