When comedic actress and University of Akron alumna Yvette Nicole Brown ’94 settled on stage at the Student Union Ballroom Feb. 8 before a full house of fans, she let them in on a little secret: She had scheduled her UA visit a year in advance and marked it on her calendar with big hearts.
“I love The University of Akron and wanted you guys to see the possibilities. Everything you’re experiencing, I experienced,” she said.
While Brown’s career might be best described as serendipity, she said her “From UA to LA” Rethinking Race appearance was not. It was an opportunity to come home to UA — home to her mentor, Dr. Karla Mugler, associate vice president of integrated student success; home to Dr. Susan Speers, her professor of theatre arts; home to retired WZIP-FM general manager Tom Beck, whom she described as “a big inspiration;” home to her UA family — past and present. “I’m here because I want to be here. I wanted to leave breadcrumbs,” Brown said. “You are my legacy.”
As a poor child from East Cleveland, Brown said she saw herself as more than the drug deals she witnessed on her neighborhood streets. “I felt like I was more than that and The University of Akron offered that to me,” she said.
Brown earned her way to UA through scholarships and immersed herself in college life as an Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority member and as a WZIP-FM program manager, among several other accomplishments. An aspiring songstress at the time, Brown said she would bring her keyboard into the WZIP studios at 3 a.m. and work on her demos.
“I never felt there was anything I couldn’t do. I had some wonderful teachers here. I know they are encouraging you and inspiring you,” she said to her audience, which included many current UA students.
With $1,500 in her pocket and a place to stay in Los Angeles for three days, Brown, after graduating from UA, headed off to the West Coast city with all she needed.
“I believed,” she said. “I don’t care what race you are, there are too many opportunities. I don’t care how old you are, dreams don’t expire. You do."
Media contact: Denise Henry, 330-972-6477 or email@example.com.