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Community Well-Being: Brenda Tillman '84
This article originally appeared in the Bentley Magazine.
“If each of us can find the light within, we can do great things,” she says. “We are all connected and the choices we make have universal impact.”
Tillman first found her voice around the dinner table with family members. At Bentley, the former Business Administration major became a matriarch of sorts in taking on various leadership roles. As president of the Black United Body, for example, she had a knack for engaging members, particularly through committee work.
“It’s important to have a group that you feel associated with and responsible to, so you know you’re not an island,” says Tillman, whose work as a resident assistant encouraged fellow students toward values such as mutual respect. “We were each other’s keepers. It was our job to make sure no one was falling by the wayside in any aspect of living in this community.”
The alumna applies the same philosophy in her career, which ranges across government, business and academic organizations. For example, she has worked with STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) scholars in the National Science Foundation’s Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation to “encourage students to reach beyond perceived limitations, as presenters of their groundbreaking research projects.”
The self-described “inspirationalist” shares words to live by in several books. They include Shades of Mandingo (poetry), Listen! Your Positive Inner Voice (affirmations) and Happy! Happy! Happy! (for children).
“When you recognize God’s power within you, nothing else matters,” reads one of Tillman’s poems. “Your walk is different; your talk is different.”
President Larson, along with guest experts, joined Bloomberg’s Carol Massar and Cory Johnson, to talk about how college and universities are preparing graduates to navigate diverse environments.