Owensboro native Brionna Greer has been named as one of the 44 students nationwide selected as 2020 Historically Black Colleges and Universities Competitiveness Scholars.
The annual scholar program is the White House Initiative on HBCU’s highest student recognition.
Greer, who graduated from Owensboro High School and will enter her senior year at Kentucky State University this fall, said she was surprised by the nomination and honor.
“I always told myself, ‘I’m going to give it my all,’” she said. “My dean nominated me. To know I got nominated was a big surprise.”
According to a release from the U.S. Department of Education, “Scholars were chosen based on their academic achievements, campus and civic involvement, and entrepreneurial ethos or ‘go-getter’ spirits.”
Comprised of undergraduate, graduate, professional students and international students from various academic backgrounds, the 2020 scholars were selected from among several highly distinguished HBCU students.
“In addition, each recognized scholar was nominated and endorsed by their institution president, “which itself is prestigious acknowledgement,” the release reads.
The process of being selected as a 2020 HBCU scholar involved a Zoom call with two staff members from KSU, who interviewed Greer about her time on campus, her plans for the future, and her goals.
Greer said she never thought she’d actually win, but a week after that interview the school asked for her resume, and the next day she was selected.
A business administration major at KSU, Greer said she originally wanted to go into law and become a criminal defense attorney to help those who’d been incarcerated.
Greer changed her career path when she realized she really wanted to help people before they became incarcerated by focusing on mental health and childhood trauma. Although she spent three years interning at the public defender’s office in Owensboro, she felt compelled to focus her energies on mental health issues.
“I believe God was directing me toward mental health,” she said. “I have a mental health program called Breaking the Cycle that focuses on troubled youth. Luckily my father went to college, but I can only imagine the kids without parents who went to college. Issues [that many adults face] almost always come from childhood issues.”
Although Greer said she’s still not entirely sure where her future will take her, she’s considering getting her Master’s degree in either social work or counseling.
With a 3.8 GPA, two part-time jobs, and a lineup of programs and on-campus organizations she spearheaded, Greer said she faced a tough junior year with all of the COVID-19 obstacles that took place. However, the past semester at KSU also pushed her to overcome those challenges.
“It was very different with COVID, but I found a way to get through it,” she said. “[This honor proves] that I’m not just a number at KSU. To be around so many like-minded people has been a great thing for me. This is why I attend KSU. There’s people around me who know the daily struggles we encounter and still want to see everyone at the top.”
Editor’s note: The original photo posted with this story included a logo for the wrong White House Initiative program. It has since been removed.