Brittany L. Wright: Your Own Sunlight

Brittany Wright standing in a flower dress against a gold and black wall

Life has its ups and downs, and no one knows that better than Brittany L. Wright (BA’ 14, sociology), a winner of the Emerging Alumni Award. Once a college student struggling with depression, and now a proud mom with a wide range of skills under her belt, Wright hopes to inspire other students with her story and efforts. 

What do you do professionally?

I’m a DJ, doula, and Program Manager in the Governor's Children's Cabinet where I lead statewide coordination in infant/parental health, children’s mental health, youth justice, and more. 

How are you involved in the community?

I leverage my position at the State of Minnesota to ensure community voices are lifted up and heard by key decision makers in state government. I'm an advocate for youth justice, children’s mental health, and health equity. I consult on large community development projects supporting organizations in authentic community engagement and listening. I provide doula services to families who need support with prenatal, postpartum, and/or labor and delivery services, and I DJ lots of community gatherings promoting joy, fellowship, and well-being. 

How did your time in CLA inspire you to pursue your path?

I was severely depressed in college and remember planning my suicide in my dorm. I was drowning in isolation, an overwhelming schedule, and felt ashamed to share what I was feeling. What I know now is that I was trapped in the shame of stigma and mental health.  It almost cost me my life, and created deep academic challenges for me. Eventually I found my own personal sunlight, a therapist, and was able to pull myself out of a very dark place to finish my degree, but I remember what it was like to be a student who felt lost, alone, who struggled to navigate the healthcare system, and who needed to be affirmed that mental illness is real, common, and manageable. Children's Mental Health is now one of the portfolios I manage for youth across the entire state with the Governor's Children's Cabinet.

What is your favorite memory from your time as a student?

I was a part of a student group called Voices Merging. We held open mics on Monday nights in Moos Towers. At the time it was the largest open mic in the state of Minnesota. I met artists there and friends that are still in my life to this day. I learned so much about writing, event production, and organizing. In that group I found the intersection of hip hop, spoken word, and social change. Now I'm a DJ and published writer who constantly pushes for change. It was because of that student group that I learned that this path was possible. 

What advice would you give to current CLA students?

Build healthy relationships with students and faculty, get involved in extracurricular activities, be present and enjoy your college experience. It goes by fast!

How do you spend your free time? What "fills your cup"?

Family time is my favorite time. Outside of that I enjoy listening to music and spending time with my friends. To fill my cup I practice self care consistently, go to therapy, and  go to church. 

What was your reaction to receiving this award?

I laughed. The girl who barely graduated is now getting recognized by the school. I hope they let me speak so I can share more of my journey and how struggling students become thriving professionals and healthy humans. 

What's next? What are your personal/professional goals for the next five years?

I currently DJ for the MN Lynx, Timberwolves, Aurora, United, Saints, and Twins. I hope to add the Vikings and Wild to my client list so I can say I've DJ'ed for all of the major sports teams in the state. As a doula and family wellness advocate I plan on expanding my business to focus on workforce development solutions to address racial health equity, and plan to open up my own family wellness center focused on addressing racial health disparities. I'd like to travel the world sharing my gifts, talents, and thought leadership. Personally, I want my daughter to still think I'm cool 5 years from now.

This story was edited by an undergraduate student.

Edited by Jennifer Nguyen

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