Dr. Naima Brown

Dr. Naima Brown
Vice President for Student Affairs at Santa Fe College

Describe your role as Vice President for Student Affairs at Santa Fe College.

I am responsible for making sure that students at the college have the guidance, support and smooth processing that they need to complete their academic goals.  I am also responsible for ensuring that staff within the Division of Student Affairs have the direction, support and resources that they need to be effective in their jobs. In the role of vice president, I provide leadership for Admissions, Advising, Athletics, the Career Resource Center, the Counseling Center, the Disability Resources Center, Diversity Programs, Financial Aid, Records, Student Conduct, Student Life, Student Development Instruction and Veteran & Military Support Services. I also oversee several Student Affairs grant programs.  I can assure you that for me, every single day at work is different! With over 20,000 students each year, ever-changing legislation and constant advances in technology there are countless challenges to overcome, new lessons to learn and many needs to meet.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Beyond all shadow of doubt, it is commencement! We hold graduation ceremonies at the end of the spring semester and at the end of the fall semester. And whether it is April or December, I sing, “It is the most wonderful time of the year” because graduation is just that! To see the graduates walk across the stage, to hear their family and friends celebrate them and to know that this college has prepared the graduating class for better opportunities and higher wages is tremendously fulfilling!

As a woman, have you ever struggled with asserting yourself and gaining respect as a leader from your peers?

Actually, I have never had a problem with being assertive. In fact, I think I am more likely to come off as too assertive than as not assertive enough. And I have not really struggled with gaining respect as a leader from my peers. Based on what I hear others experience, I recognize that I am a part of a dream team because we all work very well together and have the highest respect for one another. My struggle has honestly been more internal. Like many minorities, I have experienced the imposter syndrome where I sometimes feel like I do not belong because of my background. When I get that feeling, I remind myself that I may not have traveled the same road as others, but we eventually ended up in the same spot. And not only do I belong where I am, but I bring a unique and much needed perspective that would be lacking if I were not at the table.  

What have you personally learned from the student body at Santa Fe?

Persistence pays off! Every student will face some challenge. It could be academic, financial, personal or physical. But the students who eventually earn the credential are the ones who stick to it. I learn from different students every single day to keep working at my goals and I will eventually reach them.

How do you try to relate to them?

Students are learners, and I am a learner too. Like them, I am constantly learning with purpose. My goal is to be better as a vice president, better as a wife, better as a Christian and better as a Scrabble player (that’s my hobby). As a learner in all these areas, I listen, I question, I research and I study. I get feedback on my performance. I celebrate when I am doing well, and I seek out helpful resources when I am not up to par. As learners, we have a lot in common.

What do you think your strengths are and how did you identify them?

When I took Gallup’s StrengthsFinder assessment and read about my strengths, I said, “Wow! They really nailed it!” This is who I am: learner, focus, achiever, positivity, belief.

And out of all of these, my greatest strength is my positivity. I am contagious with enthusiasm and unmovable with optimism. I attribute this to my strong faith in God working all things together for good, even when it does not look like it, and especially when it does not feel like it.

How do you want to make an impact through your career?

I want to be a part of that bridge that takes students from where they currently are to where they want to be – earning higher wages, providing more resources for their families and playing significant roles in the economic development of our community. I love that my job allows me to make that kind of impact!