Photo of Brianna Sargent

Brianna Sargent

McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Psychology major, minors in African Studies, Sociology and Women's and Gender Studies

Class of 2020 graduate, attending the University of Pennsylvania for a master's in social work

Brianna's Duquesne journey has taken her from her native Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, Ghana and now back to the City of Brotherly Love. While the coronavirus forced her home early, the senior psychology major will be pursuing a master's degree in social work at the University of Pennsylvania this fall.

"This is the first time in several years that my brother, sister and I have all been in the same city at the same time. My brother lived in Pittsburgh for several years. The same day that I moved to Pittsburgh to attend Duquesne in 2016, he moved to California. We are now all back in Philadelphia and cherishing one another's presence. Sunday family dinner has become a tradition since this transition began, which is something I look forward to," she said.

Taking diverse coursework and her involvement as a Community Engagement Scholar with the Center for Community-Engaged Teaching and Research (CETR) helped to shape her passion for social change and to work with inner city, at risk and marginalized children. "I just want to be that person telling them that they can do it." This spring semester Brianna interned with Allegheny County's Department of Human Services where she collected data on the city's homeless population. She was also a member of the Duquesne chapter of Strong Women, Strong Girls, a youth mentoring program during her time at Duquesne.

As a CETR Scholar, Brianna worked with the Macedonia Family and Community Enrichment Center (FACE) Inc. The faith-based organization provides a variety of social services for children and families with a focus on addressing disparities impacting the African American community. "I didn't know the ins and outs of justice and how making social change can take a long time. I still have so much to learn." She also credits Luci-Jo DiMaggio, her CETR advisor in the University's Division of Mission and Identity, for mentoring her. Brianna also worked with DiMaggio in helping to facilitate the inaugural Duquesne University Leadership Academy in 2019. She is proud of all that they were able to teach this first group of high school students in such a short amount of time.

Of her spring 2019 study abroad experience in Ghana, Brianna called it "eye-opening" and it impacted her view of the country and dispelled some of the generalizations some people make about life in Africa. Despite the rigors of the coursework, on-site instruction and travel, she came out of it having made several lifelong friendships. While it was a significant expense to take part in, Brianna noted that Duquesne helped her in finding resources so that she could participate. "If Duquesne sees that this is something that you really, really want to do they'll make it work. I feel like if I had been at a bigger institution they wouldn't have cared that much."

At Duquesne, "it's easy to get that connection and familiar face." She was that familiar face to freshman students as a resident assistant (RA) in Saint Ann Hall her junior year. Sargent appreciates the close relationships she was able to develop with her professors and University staff these last four years. "They provide these services but it's up to me to actually go. I feel like though that I've had so many people that have encouraged me and pushed me to go far. I'm glad I made the decision to go here and I'm ready for new beginnings."