Gerald Brown, a junior in the College of Visual and Performing Arts' School of Art, was named one of two senior class marshals for the Class of 2018 by the Division of Enrollment and the Student Experience, which oversees the selection process. Along with Anjana “Angie” Pati, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, Brown will lead her class and carry the Class of 2018 banner to open Syracuse University’s 164th Commencement ceremony.
The prestigious honor of senior class marshal is a distinction with deep roots at Syracuse University. Not only do the senior class marshals lead their class at Commencement, but they serve as student leaders year-round, representing their class at University-wide events and programs, and engaging with senior-level administrators.
“Each year, the selection committee is presented with an outstanding applicant pool, and this year was no different. Those nominated for this honor are exemplary students—representing the spirit, academic achievement and engagement of their class,” says Colleen O’Connor Bench, associate vice president in Enrollment and the Student Experience. “Gerald and Angie have made the most of their student experience as evidenced by their academic pursuits, campus and community involvement, and leadership. This honor is well-deserved.”
Brown, from the South Side of Chicago, is majoring in sculpture and minoring in entrepreneurship and emerging enterprises in the Martin J. Whitman School of Management. Brown is a Ronald McNair Scholar, a VPA Artistic Merit Scholar and a VPA Dean’s List awardee. Brown’s sculpture work earned her recognition for her talents, most recently, being nominated and selected to showcase her work as part of the “People of Color. People of Clay.” exhibition at Baltimore Clayworks in Maryland.
Brown’s passion for art extends beyond her own artistic works and studies. She also applies her talents and education in arts administration and teaching. Brown serves as an arts administration intern with the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago, where she created the Teen Alumni Network and leads summer teen art programs. She also served as a teaching artist with the Positive Force Youth Foundation NFP, where she designed and instructed a summer art course for children in first-through-seventh grade. This teaching experience led her to join the Syracuse University Art Workshops for Young People as an assistant art teacher. In this capacity, Brown teaches various techniques and practices to children.
Throughout her time at Syracuse University, Brown has also been passionate about community building. Inspired by former senior class marshal Ronald Taylor ’15 and other alumni mentors, Brown has dedicated much of her time to leading efforts that celebrate and embrace the many cultures represented in the campus community.
Brown helped to reestablish the Black Artist League, a historical artistic organization, and served as the organization’s visual arts events coordinator, curating visual art showcases and inviting guest artists. She also founded, and currently leads, Ubuntu: Black Leadership Network, a student organization that unites the 40-plus presidents of Black student organizations. Through this effort, Brown works with the presidents, campus leaders and University administrators to collaborate on campuswide initiatives, as well as support and amplify the efforts of each of the organizations. Her efforts earned her the Bob Marley Spirit Award from Caribbean Student Association and Most Philanthropic Student from the Kappa Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc.
During her time on campus, Brown has also been active with fullCIRCLE, a mentoring program housed within the Office of Multicultural Affairs. Brown joined the program as a first-year student, and after completing the program, wanted to serve as a mentor for other first-year and transfer students. Brown now serves as a peer leader within the Office of Multicultural Affairs, volunteering for events and connecting with students. Continuing to help new students is something Brown looks forward to as an orientation leader this year as well. She sees her opportunity to lead and support others as a way to fulfill her life’s goal to “not be the voice of the people, but to pass the mic to others.”
These vast experiences across campus are what motivated Brown to apply to be a senior class marshal.
“Learning more about the position and reflecting on the experience I had on campus, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to continue some of the work I have done throughout my time at Syracuse,” says Brown. “From volunteering at Own the Dome and giving residence hall tours, to having the opportunity to fly home to Chicago to speak at the same admitted student reception I went to only a few years prior has been truly rewarding. I am eager to use the skills I learned from these different moments in my life and apply them to a larger context.”
As far as what is ahead for Brown, her career plans are reminiscent of the experiences she has had while an undergraduate at Syracuse University—combining her passion for the arts and commitment to serving others.
“I am an artist. I love making art, particularly sculptures, and working with wood and clay,” Brown says. “My goal is to continue as a practicing artist, but also start my own art programs for students and adults of all ages, and ultimately, my own art center.”