05th Sep2011

Aleia Brown – Coppin State University

by Staff

“…Don’t be discouraged if it seems that the resources you need are evading you. Just be persistent because the winners are always the ones that kept working, when the others just stopped trying.”

C/O 2009

Major: History 
Minor: Spanish

Personal Contacts:



How did you decide to become a student at Coppin State University?

I knew for sure that I wanted to attend an HBCU. I chose Coppin State University because they offered me a full ride and they had the most responsive faculty and staff. Before I had even started my senior year of high school, I was already well acquainted with the faculty in the Honors College and the History Department. They always responded to my inquiries and even offered suggestions.

Originally, I was recruited for Women’s Tennis. The coach at the time had a lot to do with getting me engaged with the University.

I wanted to attend a college where interaction between faculty and students was evident. This early interaction set the ball in motion so that I would work on the Bureau of Land Management sponsored project Finding History’s Forgotten People my first year at Coppin.

What professors at Coppin State University left the most impression upon you as a student and/or person? What did they do that continues to mean so much to you to this day?

Most of my professors at Coppin contributed something meaningful to my academic career. My advisor, Dr. Cynthia Neverdon-Morton (see Nubian Queen Aleia Brown and Dr. Neverdon pictured below smiling happily!) certainly left the greatest impression on me and I continue to glean from her. She really invested a great deal of time in developing me as a historian and she exposed me to so many different things.

Aleia Brown & Dr.Cynthia-Neverdon-Morton both of Coppin State University I was fortunate to serve as her Research Assistant for Finding History’s Forgotten People, which opened so many doors for me. Working on this federally funded project allowed me to conduct primary research in Colorado and present at a Bureau of Land Management Quarter Meeting in Washington, D.C. and at the 2007 ASALH Conference in North Carolina. These opportunities are only the beginning of what Dr. Neverdon-Morton exposed me to.

She is a very caring and thoughtful person. Even now, I don’t hesitate to ask her for advice or simply catch up with her.

The Honors College Faculty and the rest of the History Department really embraced and encouraged me. Their support was an essential ingredient to my success at Coppin.

What is the story of your “experience” at Coppin State University given its heralded status as a stellar and prestigious HBCU?

I had a very simple and fulfilling experience as a Coppin State University Honors student and McNair scholar. I handled my business academically. More importantly, I made some great friends. Before injuries, I was also a member of Women’s Tennis and Track Teams. Some of my best experiences are from Coppin State University. I was a very well rounded student.

What were the best restaurants on and near campus? Which dishes did you enjoy the most?

There are many cool restaurants in Baltimore and I made it my business to explore nearly all of them. I actually worked at one of my favorite restaurants in the States- XS Baltimore, a really eclectic place that serves sushi and American food.

I’m vegetarian so my two favorites were the Yabba Pot and One World Café because I could eat EVERYTHING on the menu!

What were the chants heard most often at the sporting events?

When the announcer went through the opposing basketball team’s roster, the guys would yell “Who’s that? You suck!” That was the funniest to me. I’d like to say I’m a sophisticated spectator but I talked to my friends more than actually watching the games.

How did you overcome your nervousness about going to college?

I wasn’t nervous about going to college more than eight hours away from my family. My parents exposed me to change and new environments when I was very young.

What was your major? and Why did you choose it?

I majored in History and minored in Spanish. Many discouraged me from this choice because they thought it wasn’t as lucrative as other majors. I chose History because I loved learning about the past and it felt so empowering. I attended an overwhelmingly white college preparatory high school and the story of African Americans was often incomplete or completely omitted. I envisioned substantiating African American history. I also thought that it would offer me the best preparation for a graduate program in Public History and a career as a Museum Curator and author.

You have to be a visionary and creative planner to be a History major because your career path is not readily laid out for you. I welcomed the challenge. Though my career path is somewhat unusual, my parents supported me and I think this was a critical component to my success then, and now in grad school.

What has been your proudest moment at Coppin State University?

My proudest moment at Coppin occurred on May 17, 2009. I graduated Summa Cum Laude in three years!

I was also the youngest and one of three undergraduate students to present original research at the ASALH Convention in 2007.

What was your saddest moment at Coppin State University?

One of my potentially proudest moments turned into one of my saddest moments. My last year at Coppin I was chosen to write a welcome and introduce the university president at Convocation. All went well until I accidently called the president Ronald Avery instead of Reginald Avery. Even though he made a joke of it when he made his address and later assured me that he didn’t take offense, it was still really embarrassing. He invited me to lunch afterwards. President Avery is really supportive and engaging. In retrospect, it’s a little funny to think about how sad and worried I was about the mistake.

How were you positively active on campus? (e.g. clubs, SGA, etc.)

Fully funded Honors College student- Student of the Year 2008, Service Award 2006- 2009, Coordinator for 2008 Relay for Life

Ronald E. McNair scholar

Accelerated Bachelor’s Course of Study

Phi Alpha Theta President 2008- 2009

Founding member of Sigma Delta Pi 2009

Women’s Tennis and Track before injuries

Where was the “yard” located?

Near the dorms. Not very difficult to find. I was too busy to pledge. Sometimes I wish that I did.

What and where were the historical places on campus?

Coppin State University was founded in 1900 on Pennsylvania Avenue in Baltimore, Maryland. The current location of the University is fairly new, with most of the buildings erected in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Coppin has received a major face-lift within the last couple of years.

Are there any ghost stories involving buildings or spots on campus?

I haven’t heard or experience any ghost at Coppin. I wish I did though.

When and how did you discover your passion in life?

I have two passions- using creative methods to educate people and service. It seems like those passions are innate because I don’t remember a point of discovery. However, I do remember the point when both of these passions materialized. My academic advisor Dr. Cynthia Neverdon-Morton took me to an exhibition opening at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum. Several months later I worked on a team to curate the first exhibit for children at the James E. Lewis Museum of Fine Arts at Morgan State University. This exhibit was also unique in that it was made especially for African American children.

I am now working on an MA in Public History and certificate in Non-Profit Management at Northern Kentucky University. The next step is the Doctorate in American Studies. Ultimately I want to be a museum curator and have an impact in the Non-Profit world.

Whats your take on life (in the philosophical sense)?

I think this world needs dreamers and doers and I’m both.

This is one of my mantras I still tell myself everyday: Follow your dreams. Be honest about the obstacles you will face along the way. People will eventually run with your vision. The circle that matters doesn’t mind investing in passion with a purpose.

If you could only speak two sentences to the youth coming after you what would you say?

Don’t be discouraged if it seems that the resources you need are evading you. Just be persistent because the winners are always the ones that kept working, when the others just stopped trying.

Aleia Brown we would just like to say thank you for taking the time to enlighten the youth and all others who absorbed the wisdom you gave so much of in this interview. We should hope that one day you author a book that gives even more insight into the keys to success that you certainly possess and are using. We wish you the most success and resilency in the face of challenges and if we can support you in any way please let us know.

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Graduate of an HBCU and true believer in HBCUs being the best at giving a well-rounded education academically and personally.




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