Newsletter Article

Brandon Stogsdill Breaking Down Barriers

“I have never met a youth that was anything close to what I would consider ‘hopeless.’ By sharing my story and using my education and experience, I work to steer youth away from a self-defeating pathway. I try to let each youth I talk with understand that they are gifts that have been placed on this planet for a purpose, with all the necessary tools to achieve any dreams they desire.” - Brandon Stogsdill

Image of Brandon Stogsdill
Prandon Stogsdill

Idealistic sentiments, you might say? Perhaps—but, take into account that they come from a young man who began his undergraduate education while serving time in prison. Brandon Stogsdill’s story, featured in last year’s Psychology Department Newsletter, is one of beating the odds, finding hope and a sense of purpose where there seemed to be none, and emerging from a world of violence and anger to find that dreams can be realized. Brandon’s is the story of breaking down barriers.

Checking in on Brandon’s progress over this past year, we find him continuing his community-based work with at-risk youth through the Chill and Impact programs, as well as adding to his already impressive list of awards and scholarships. Brandon, who arrived at the UW from Pierce Community College on a Martin Honors Scholarship, is now in his second year as a Mary Gates Leadership Scholar. Also the recipient of the S. Sterling Munro Fellowship, the George Newsome Humanitarian Award and an International Programs & Exchanges Scholarship to study in Paris, Brandon has just completed his application for the prestigious Truman Scholarship. This past year has also included numerous presentations and speaking engagements, as well as the completion of a book about his

experiences, which is now in the hands of a literary agent. Brandon is also poised to apply for a $40,000 grant for the initiations and expansion of The Real Experience project; a diversion program designed to work with at-risk youth,

which he developed while incarcerated Now, nearly halfway through his senior year as a psychology major, with a trail of accomplishments behind him and a bright future ahead, Brandon is reflective. He’s thinking about the young people he has met whose cries for help—whether in the form of a scream or a whisper—have touched him. “My gift is being able to uncover the mask, break down the barrier, and decipher the message that is coming through their scream or whisper.” Travelling the path with Brandon, the road sign ahead reads “Watch for Falling Barriers.” n