Breanna Brown is an Exceptional Young Woman

Poised to Beat the Odds

“I was inspired to become a mentor because I know there are students who are ready to conquer the world, but [who] have experienced circumstances similar to mine. There are barriers that seem impossible to overcome and that has inspired me to share my story — to motivate students to believe their goals are possible no matter what challenge stands in the way.”

Breana grew up a few blocks from the Comer Education Campus. Raised by her grandmother, in a home that housed many other relatives, Breana’s childhood was not easy. Yet, as a member of Gary Comer College Prep’s founding class, Breana took full advantage of the opportunities provided on the Comer Education Campus. Breana was motivated to achieve academically and became involved in a number of after-school activities at the Youth Center, including Green Teens, an urban gardening program, and Free Sprit Media, a digital news team.

In 2012, Breana graduated from GCCP and matriculated to Illinois State University (ISU), becoming the first in her family to attend college. That summer, Breana lost her brother to gun violence in Chicago. The following summer, she gave birth to her son Jehrico. These two events would have derailed many students, but Breana found the strength to persist through these challenges to attain her goal of college graduation.

Breana is dedicated to helping other Comer students and she feels a deep need to give back. In addition to her studies, she volunteered as a peer alumni-coordinator. She acted as a mentor to new Comer freshman, organizing study nights, advising on course selection, and offering social and emotional support during their transition to campus life. Breana also worked as an after-school program coordinator at Sugar Creek Elementary and as a Volleyball Coach for Normal Parks and Recreation. She worked tirelessly to help others succeed while maintaining a strong GPA. 

Despite the odds, Breana went on to become the first in her family to graduate from college, earning her bachelor’s degree in English Studies from Illinois State University in 2017. The leadership skills she developed at GCYC and as an UtmostU peer mentor for ISU freshmen have positioned her for a fulfilling career. Breana is currently an Admissions Counselor at Lincoln College.

Less than 15% of low-income students from Chicago Public Schools graduate from college. Breanna is poised to beat the odds.