Brenda Stevens, director of multicultural service, has traveled extensively, learning about the culture in Kenya, China, and many other countries. Her experience learning about other cultures has benefited her position and fueled her desire to continue traveling. She went to Kent State University as a journalism major and has been on staff for 17 years.
Aviso: How did you end up at Malone?
Stevens: Long story short, I worked for an education foundation which developed science and math programs across Stark County. I developed a science and math camp for girls and it was held here at Malone University. So when I met with the provost to talk about funding for the program and how we would implement the program at Malone, he suggested that he had an opening for a director of multicultural service and I’ve been here ever since.
Aviso: What groups and organizations are you affiliated with?
Stevens: The Malone International Student Association was developed under the office so that international students would have an opportunity not only share their culture, but learn about American culture through trips, entertainment and activities. And then One Voice Gospel Choir was founded under this office because there were students who really wanted to hear and experience gospel music on this campus, the way they experienced it in their home church. So one of our students started pulling students together, and that’s been about ten years in the making now.
Aviso: Where have you traveled to?
Stevens: I’ve been to Kenya. I’ve been to China. South Africa, Botswana, Zambia. I was in Zimbabwe for a bit. I’ve really enjoyed learning about other cultures, because really, that’s part of what my job is—to not only educate others on culture, but continue to learn about other cultures.
Aviso: What has been your favorite travel experience?
Stevens: Most definitely Kenya. When I stepped off the plane there in Kenya, someone just whispered in my ear, ‘Welcome home, my sister.’ For me, that brought tears to my eyes. As an African American female growing up in America, there’s not a lot that I can find out about my history beyond slavery. Just to know that there is another connection that I can make whether I know exactly where my family originates from or not. So, that felt really good.
Aviso: Any travel plans in the near future?
Stevens: I’m not sure right now. I’d love to do some more traveling.
Aviso: What did you study in college?
Stevens: I went into Kent State University just five years after the Kent State shootings. So of course it was a time of turmoil, protest and when students were really voicing. There was a lot of student unrest during the Vietnam War. I really got to use my voice. I was a journalism major, so all of my classes were in the building on the hill where the shootings took place. So for me, I served as an RA at that time, and National Guard was still coming to our campus. There was tear gas in the building next door to me the year I was an RA. It was very turbulent, but at the same time it was [the] 70s. I was the homecoming queen at Kent, the second African American female to be homecoming queen. On a predominately white campus, that was huge.
Aviso: Do you have a favorite sport?
Stevens: Football. For a few reasons. My son played football in college. A lot of the players are the student leaders and so I’ve grown to be really close to them and be very fond of them. I am a huge football fan.