Sareil Brookins: The path to fearlessness

Sareil Brookins graduated from UCSC with degrees in Intensive Psychology and Critical Race & Ethnic Studies.

Sareil Brookins —UC Santa Cruz alumna, Alumni Council member, and first-generation college student — graduated from Stevenson College in 2019 with two degrees in Intensive Psychology and Critical Race & Ethnic Studies. 

Brookins was raised in Sacramento and currently resides in Maryland, where she is the Human Resources and Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Coordinator for the University of Maryland’s School of Information Studies. She says that being a Black and Queer womxn at UC Santa Cruz pushed her to go above and beyond in all that she accomplished. 

“I enjoyed living and working with my community at UCSC; they were really the folks who grounded me when I felt my life was thrown off balance,” Brookins says. “Fostering a community was one thing at UCSC, but finding myself was another.” 

During her time at UCSC, Brookins interned at the African American Resource & Cultural Center (AARCC) and served as the Residential Advisor for the Rosa Parks African American Themed House (RPAATH). 

Brookins wanted to experience every possible opportunity UCSC had to offer. She promised herself that she would say yes to leadership opportunities that came her way. 

“It was in this approach that I learned to feel the fear and do it anyway,” Brookins says. “Regardless of what I was afraid of, I made sure to encourage myself.” 

In addition to her roles at the AARC and RPAATH, Brookins also worked with the Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS), The Diversity Facilitators Team (DFT), and The Student Success Advisory Council. Through her time with CAPS, Brookins says she learned to break down the stigma around mental health. DFT gave her the chance to co-facilitate training sessions for students and staff, and with The Student Success Advisory Council, she voiced students’ needs for obtaining success. 

“Creating equity and belonging in spaces I was part of became a true passion of mine to ensure that everyone has a seat at the table, and if they didn’t—I’d bring one,” Brookins says.

Among all her experiences at UCSC, Brookins says the most memorable and transformative was participating in the UCDC (Washington, DC) program in her final term of undergraduate studies. After graduating, she moved back to DC without securing a job. 

“Taking that leap of faith, trusting myself, and my vision was the greatest decision I made,” Brookins says. “Feeling the fear of the unknown but doing it anyway is how I achieved all I have to this day. The opportunities that UCSC offered encouraged me to choose my own adventure, and in that, I have grown to be fearless.”

“Remember, if not you, then who? If not now, then when?” -Malcolm X

Sareil Brookins will be hosting Banana Slug Share: How to Foster Belongingness in Your Life on April 20 as part of Alumni Week. Visit the Alumni Week website to register for Brookins' event.