University of Montevallo student Brianna Bramlett received an email from her supervisor at her part-time job at Books-A-Million about entering a contest to win a ticket to the Poets & Writers Gala in New York City and thought, why not?
Bramlett, a double major in English and communication studies who wants to pursue a career in the book publishing industry, decided to give it a shot and drafted an authentic piece about what literature has meant in her life. She didn’t have high hopes when the results email from the competition arrived. Bramlett scrolled past her name among four winners at the top of the list and quickly scanned the honorable mention selections, believing that was the highest honor she had potential to receive.
Her intuition convinced her to take one last glance at the four winners, and she couldn’t believe her eyes.
“It was most definitely a shock,” Bramlett said as she recalled seeing her name. “I was like, ‘oh my goodness!’”
Bramlett’s decision to draft her award-winning work titled, “Telling the Wind and Fire,” was influenced heavily by UM faculty and her experiences on the red brick streets. Bramlett said she’s always loved writing, but didn’t have the tools needed to find her voice until attending the University.
“I always had a hard time finding my own voice writing within a piece, but after going here, I’ve realized how important my voice is,” Bramlett said. “I would not have been able to write the piece without acknowledging that, because it’s based on my lived experience with what has changed my life. You could have asked me four years ago to write the same thing, and I wouldn’t have been able to because everyone here has really taught me how to hone in and master my skills, based on who I am and my experience, and the things I find important.”
Bramlett said all of her experiences at UM have helped her become who she is today. She quickly found a place to fit in and took advantage of as many extracurricular experiences as she could fit in her schedule and encourages fellow students to do the same.
“There are clubs for literally everything,” Bramlett said. “Treat your extracurriculars as you would treat your education because it’s an extension of it. I’ve learned just as much about myself, about what I love to do, about the things that I’m passionate about outside of the classroom, but on campus, as I have within the classroom. Everybody kind of had that same passion and drive that I had, in a hundred different areas in a hundred different ways, but it was an automatic community.”
Bramlett’s long list of activities include her sorority, her Gold Side spirit coordinator responsibilities and serving as president of the Sigma Tau Delta English honor society, but the opportunities that have been among the most meaningful have been her participation as a Montevallo Maven in the Admissions Office and serving as a member of the student social media team in the University Marketing & Communications Office.
“Getting connected with the offices here on campus is not only beneficial to the skills you can now put on your résumé but also really in just clicking in to the college culture,” Bramlett said.
In addition to her plentiful extracurricular activities, Bramlett has also excelled as part of the UM Honors program. She said her participation in the program is her biggest source of pride as a UM student. Bramlett is currently completing her Golson Seminar, her capstone course in the program.
“I think completing the Honors program has given me a lot of pride because of how many Honors classes you have to take and do well in in order to get that honor,” Bramlett said “(Completing the Golson Seminar) is bringing everything together. I think being able to see that has been my proudest achievement.”
Bramlett is excited for the opportunity to meet with publishers from some of the most well-known companies around the world on her upcoming trip to New York during spring break. She said representatives from Penguin Random House and HarperCollins, among others, will be attending the gala.
“I want to go into book publishing, and I was looking into the Poets & Writers Gala, and that’s something all of the publishing companies are involved in,” Bramlett said. “I really hope I’ll be able to network and meet the right people and get the right connections in order to make that a reality soon. In terms of networking, it’s hopefully going to be immeasurable.”