Brianna Mason Broady, a Nashville native and “Vol for Life” will speak at the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences (CEHHS) commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 18th at Thompson-Boling Arena. Broady, received her Bachelors in Psychology and minor in Elementary education in 2017. She followed that with a Masters in Teacher Education under the urban multicultural cohort in 2018. In addition, she is a recipient of the 2022 Alumni Promise Award.
At the beginning of her senior year at UT, Brianna along with her future husband, Terrell Broady, Jr., founded Advocates for Autism, a nonprofit organization fostering an inclusive environment for college students on the autism spectrum. Advocating for autism awareness is a cause close to her heart as she’d grown up with her husband’s younger sister, Bethany, who has mild autism and Down syndrome.
Advocates for Autism raises awareness, serves as allies, and educates the campus about autism. The organization still exists at UT and is now across Tennessee.
A Vol Who Made History
Broady made history as the first Black woman to win the 2019 Miss Tennessee America pageant in its nearly 100-year history. The pageant’s emphasis on personal style, knowledge, and talent appealed to Broady and she chose autism awareness as her platform. Throughout her reign as Miss Tennessee, Broady was able to work with a variety of autism nonprofits to raise money and donate items such as sensory toys, pianos for music therapy, iPads for verbal communication.
To fulfill her duties as Miss Tennessee, Broady took a leave of absence as a first-grade teacher at Hobgood Elementary School in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. During that time, she kept her focus on education by working with the Tennessee Department of Education as a spokesperson for reading literacy and the Whole Child Initiative. During the COVID pandemic, as schools closed to in-person learning, Broady established an Instagram series encouraging students to continue working on reading, science, and math skills.
The Miss Tennessee crown also advanced Broady to the 2020 Miss America pageant. That year, the organization introduced a new scholarship opportunity for contestants to share work they have done to promote equity, diversity, and justice. Broady presented about her work with Advocates for Autism, which had been thriving and expanding with new collegiate chapters at UT Chattanooga, the University of Memphis, and Austin Peay State University.
She was a finalist in the scholarship award category, and the placement capped Broady’s total pageant scholarship earnings at $30,000.
A Continuing Advocacy
Today, Broady works as a teacher at Bellshire Design Center Elementary school in Nashville. She continues to make impacts in the autism community, having served as the state ambassador for Autism Tennessee and partnering with the Tennessee Council on Autism Spectrum Disorder. Broady and her husband remain active in Advocates for Autism through the Laurette Scholarship. Named for Broady’s sister, the scholarship provides funds toward any college or university, vocational, or postsecondary program.
Advocates for Autism recently named the organization’s first Laurette Scholarship recipient, Weston Trent. Trent is a high school student diagnosed with autism from Morristown, Tennessee. He chose UT’s FUTURE program, which helps young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities make a successful transition from high school to adult life. The second Laurette Scholarship will be awarded later this year.
Through its eight departments and 12 centers, the UT Knoxville College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences enhances the quality of life for all through research, outreach, and practice. Find out more at cehhs.utk.edu.