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Life & Work with Aleya Bradley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Aleya Bradley.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
My journey to becoming a journalist and educator wasn’t as many expected. I decided to drop out of college due to my mother needing help and a plethora of other things and I had no intention of returning to complete my degree.

After working my way up in retail management and a horrible break-up, I realized I wanted more for myself so I decided to return to my alma mater, Florida A&M University to continue pursuing my degree in Journalism.

That was the best decision I ever made. From there, I became a published writer, an Associate Editor, a News Editor, a News Producer, a mentor, and the list goes on. After graduating in 2018, I chose to pursue my Master’s in New Media Journalism, which helped enhance my skillset in journalism and unknowingly prepared me to become a journalism educator. But I still didn’t feel as if that was enough, so during the lockdown, I decided to apply to a doctoral program, which continued to spark my interest and passion for teaching others about journalism and mentoring.

At the age of 25, I became one of the youngest professors that many people knew and that catapulted my drive to find ways to help college students learn in a more interactive and innovative way. I pride myself on keeping students’ mental health first inside and outside of the classroom. Now I’m focusing on the start of my dissertation where I hope to focus on ways that Historically Black Colleges and Universities can better prepare students for post-graduation success, including graduate school and employability.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
The road was never easy for me, well at least that’s how I see it. I came from a single-parent home in which I watched my mom work night and day to ensure my brother and I had everything we needed (sometimes we had to learn to be without what we wanted).

I dealt with some issues in relationships that had a negative impact on my mental health, so dealing with depression during this journey was a true rollercoaster. As I always say, I have my days, the good and the bad. I worked full-time throughout all of my degrees, so there were many nights when I kept my laptop on me working on homework throughout my shift, on my breaks, or whenever I had free time.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I specialize in educating the future journalists of tomorrow. I’m thankful that I was able to combine my love for journalism and my love for teaching and mesh them into one. I think I am most proud of helping my students find a way when there feel there is no way left. I have found that while people believe my being a professor is a downfall, I have found it to be my greatest strength. I am able to better connect with students because I literally walked in their shoes less than 5 years ago.

I have found that forming relationships with my students has allowed me to better understand their learning styles and what I can do better to ensure they are prepared for the real world. As far as setting myself apart, as I mentioned earlier, mental health was a priority for me. I always started each day in my classroom with words of affirmation or quotes that students could relate to.

In terms of your work and the industry, what are some of the changes you are expecting to see over the next five to ten years?
As I take a break from the classroom and focus on research, I hope to continue finding ways to help students have an easier transition from college into the real world. I want to continue finding ways to implement more journalism prep courses in high schools, so students can get a taste of what it takes to be a journalist before heading to college.

I hope to continue setting the path for young professionals like myself who are interested in becoming professors or working in higher education. Within the next 10 years, I hope to be a Dean or Director of a Journalism or Communications program and work for a non-profit.

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