Finding Confidence at the Capstone

picture of a guyBrekeese Pierce travelled over 150 miles from Huntsville, Alabama to Tuscaloosa to begin his higher education at the Capstone.

In his own words, “As a young adolescent, I lacked confidence in myself and my own abilities. I had a defeated mindset. I would speak in a defeated manner and nothing but defeat after defeat would permeate my life.”

Yet somehow, this young adolescent who lacked confidence in himself transformed into a Magna Cum Laude UA graduate with multiple honors and awards who is now attending law school with an influential strength to change the world for the better.

As a freshman, Brekeese quickly plugged into campus through his involvement in a few student organizations. He began working as a mentor for BRIDGE, a four-year program designed to empower undergraduate men of color to access campus resources, network with UA faculty and staff and build friendships throughout their time at the Capstone.

Alongside BRIDGE, Brekeese joined the Blackburn Institute: a civic engagement and leadership development program with the distinct goal of improving the state of Alabama. Through the Blackburn Institute, Brekeese gained crucial knowledge that propelled him further on his journey.

“From the moment I became an official member of the Blackburn Institute, I started to truly understand the meaning of [the word] impact. Blackburn Institute has been tremendously pivotal in the progression of not only the Capstone but the state of Alabama as a whole. The networking, civic-engagement projects and events and imperative discussions were invaluable to me as a student. Moreover, it has given me the necessary transferable skills that will serve me as a law student and future attorney.”

Brekeese was also heavily involved as an Executive Team Lead for University Programs – a department dedicated to planning and executing events designed by students, for students. Breke

selfie of a young man

ese recalled how his time in University Programs helped ignite a spark of leadership.

“My experience working with University Programs was life-changing in the sense that I learned so much about leadership from just observing the operation and systems that University Programs has in place. I was able to work in a fun-filled environment while also being purposeful about completing the necessary tasks, which fostered substantial growth within me.”

University Programs and the Blackburn Institute are both departments within the Division of Student Life, and they are great examples of how Student Life fosters leadership and growth for UA students.

His contributions as a student didn’t go unnoticed by Student Life staff members. In Spring 2022, staff members from multiple departments nominated Brekeese for the Student Life Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award, which he received in April for his service of exceptional nature. Even months after receiving this accolade, Brekeese remains grateful to Student Life for this distinction.

“I was totally taken aback; I almost fell out of my seat! But – it was humbling. It felt great to know that the efforts you put in aren’t being overlooked. Somebody recognizes you, and the hard work you put in does pay off in the end. I still feel great; it feels like it all happened yesterday.”

Brekeese commends the entire Division of Student Life for its numerous resources and constant support shown for the students at The University of Alabama.

“The range of support is so very broad. If you look into [Student Life], you’ll find they offer something for everybody. Once you dive in, it opens the door to so many other opportunities; there’s almost no way to avoid it.”

Brekeese graduated from UA in 2022 and now attends University of Houston Law Center.  Taking this next step to continue a competitive education required tenacious confidence, a quality that he says the Capstone helped him develop.

“At Bama, I was able to hone on in so many skills that helped grow my confidence,” he says. “It made me feel competent enough to take on a higher position that consumed more time and left me with more responsibilities on my plate. The trust and guidance I received from all of Student Life at Bama made all the difference when it came time to strengthen my creative capabilities.”

dr. hood giving a student an award