By Corey Poole
While her original intention was to return to her hometown of New Orleans after earning her master’s of clinical psychology at Northwestern State University, 14 year later Brittany Blackwell Broussard said Natchitoches got her.
Broussard is a full time instructor and the coordinator of NSU’s Center for Inclusion and Diversity. She’s always been interested in understanding why people do what they do and understanding behavior while helping people through difficult times.
This passion was sparked in high school when Broussard took a psychology elective in the eleventh grade. Her father wanted her to be a doctor, and even though her family is full of teachers, her father definitely didn’t want her to be a teacher.
As she was studying pre-med and psychology at Xavier University, Broussard quickly realized that she wanted more one-on-one time with clients and less to do with prescribing medications.
Learning about NSU through family members, she was no stranger to the City of Lights. When she came to Natchitoches for her master’s degree, she felt a sense of peace.
“Of course there were other options, but I immediately felt at home here,” she explained.
As a graduate assistant in the psychology department, Broussard quickly realized that she wanted to do more with her teaching background that just kept creeping into her path.
“My passion was always there,” she said. “I was just running from it for a while.”
She soon became an adjunct instructor, teaching psychology as a profession and general psychology. At the same time she was also working as the project coordinator at the Addiction Technology Transfer Center, a nationwide, multidisciplinary resource that draws upon the knowledge, experience, and latest work of recognized experts in the field of addictions.
Broussard was hired on full time in 2013 and started advising students. This had her dabbling into the student affairs side and serving as an advisor for campus organizations and clubs such as the African American Caucus and the Delta Sigma Theta sorority.
She was becoming more ingrained in the campus culture while enjoying the surrounding community.
“I love the small town vibe,” Broussard said with a smile. You’re able to get to know people and everyone looks out for one another. It feels like family and I love all the connections I’ve made here.”
It wasn’t long before Broussard was asked to serve on the steering committee for the Center for Inclusion and Diversity. This committee was formed because students were looking for a safe space where diversity issues on race, religion, LGBTQ+, and more could be highlighted. When the physical center was born Broussard was asked to serve as its coordinator.
When asked how she balances teaching, the center, and her personal life Broussard smiled and said it’s a “working document.”
In her spare time she enjoys playing volleyball, attending trivia nights at Flying Heart Brewery, and going to the movies with her husband David. The most recent movie they enjoyed at the theater was Creed III.
A fun fact about Broussard is that she’s been to Disney World more times as an adult than she ever did as a child.
“It’s that Disney magic,” she said. “The iconic castle is the best part because it’s where all the magic begins.”
Getting back to her work life, the Center for Inclusion and Diversity is committed to combating prejudice and advocating for all minority and marginalized populations.
“Everyone comes to the center to learn and be educated on diversity issues,” said Broussard. “Everyone comes to express their concerns because if there’s no outlet, then there’s no change and they’ll leave…faculty, staff and students alike. We hope to alleviate issues and be proactive in engaging in that dialogue.”
A great piece of advice Broussard follows is: Listen to understand and not to respond.
As with anything else in life, there’s always challenges. There will always be pushback when it comes to questioning or going against the status quo.
“Not everyone like change,” said Broussard. “Sometimes it feels like an uphill battle.”
Perhaps one of the biggest battles Broussard has faced is the loss of campus culture, with diversity in particular, during and in the wake of the pandemic.
The flip side to the challenges she faces is the reward of creating a sense of belonging. She wants everyone on campus to feel not just tolerated, but that they truly belong and that their culture is celebrated.
“Some people don’t feel like the events we put on are meant for them, when they’re really meant for EVERYONE,” Broussard explained. “We try to do our best to promote our events and try to meet students where they are.”
This includes the public as the center’s events are open to the entire Natchitoches community, not just those who work and study on the NSU campus. Follow the center on social media @cid_nsula and work toward building equity and inclusion everywhere.