"One of the aspects of Stevenson that I’ve enjoyed the most is the opportunity to create a legacy for yourself rather than just be a number," Bryson says. "There is an opportunity here for all students to become leaders but it calls for us to go that extra MILE to make it happen."
Bryson S. Barksdale, who earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology in spring 2018, had an exceptional college experience thanks to both his own drive and the resources provided by Stevenson University. Capping the many activities and projects Bryson participated in was his appointment in 2017 by Governor Larry Hogan as the lone student member of Maryland Higher Education Commission to represent not only Stevenson but all college students in Maryland. His one-year term as Student Commissioner for MHEC began in summer 2017.
Bryson, from Waldorf, Md., says that he has lived by a quote from Mark Twain during his four years at Stevenson: "'Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.' It has always been a passion of mine to stand out from the crowd and push the envelope."
Prior to his appointment to MHEC, Bryson has shown his commitment to this philosophy through his active participation in varied extracurricular activities, including serving as president of the Male Initiative of Leadership and Excellence (M.I.L.E.), a Senior Resident Assistant, Stevenson University Hearing Board Member , and Stevenson University Greek Life Committee member.
Stevenson's size, Bryson says, gave him the perfect opportunity to become a leader in multiple areas and to quickly get his name spread among faculty and students. The latter paid off when the Office of Student Activities nominated him to apply for the MHEC position.
Of his responsibilities in this position, Bryson reports that during the first commission meeting, Maryland universities gave their Operating and Capital Budget Presentations. "We then we were briefed by the Office of Research and Policy on Graduation, Retention, and Transfer rates for Maryland institutions. Then in October, the commission went over the Maryland State Plan for Postsecondary Education." Bryson was also appointed to serve on the Outreach, Grants, and Financial Assistance Committee, a subcommittee that began meeting this fall.
Serving as the sole student member of MHEC has been truly humbling for him to represent all Maryland students on this platform, Bryson says. "I have been working since my freshman year to improve fellow students' collegiate experiences by voicing their concerns and thoughts and working to implement the changes on campus that students ask for. I'm thrilled to have had the opportunity to voice these concerns on a larger scale and witnessed what other institutions may be experiencing. This is only the start of my professional career towards education as I plan to work to increase engagement for all students at Maryland universities which in return will increase retention and graduation rates."
Bryson took advantage of several other opportunities at Stevenson, including conducting undergraduate research; participating in a summer internship in human resources at the printing/design firm Strategic Factory, and going abroad on a trip to Hawaii to study environmental science during the 2017 Winterim.
"One of the aspects of Stevenson that I enjoyed the most was the opportunity to create a legacy for yourself rather than just be a number," Bryson says. "There is opportunity here at Stevenson for all students to become leaders but it calls for us to go that extra MILE to make it happen."